Stark warning issued by fire service about the dangers of deliberate grass fires

Fire fighters in the South Wales Valleys have warned that people’s lives and properties are being put at risk by deliberate grass fires.

Over 95% of grass fires in the area are intentionally set and there are fears that a culture of “acceptance” is contributing to the problem.

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

"We’ve had it described to us in the past as risk-free fun by some young people", says Huw Jakeway at the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Their parents done it, their grandparents done it, so there seems to be a generational acceptance to it.

Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

In 2015, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service crews attended 1,781 grass fire incidents at an estimated cost of nearly £5.5 million. But the fire service says the cost to communities can be even greater.

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The impact on us is that we have crews deployed on the mountainside needlessly and whilst they’re on the mountainside they cannot be within our communities. It is physically impossible for us to be in two places at the same time.

Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

The basic geography of the valleys also means that fires are often lit very close to people’s homes.

Roger Rudge has a small holding in Abersychan near Newport, and says there have been grass fires in the area for as long as he can remember. Roger’s land backs on to the hillside, and he’s scared the fires will one day come too close.

Roger Rudge Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

I’ve been here 20 years but I was born and bred here so I’m quite used to it, do you know what I mean, and what they don’t realise is how much habitat they’re destroying... I’ve got a fair bit of stock here including the pond and anything could happen.

Roger Rudge