STAFFORDSHIRE’s firefighters have had their busiest summer as a result of a huge increase in deliberately started blazes.
Crews responded to hundreds arson attacks during the three-month period June 1 and August 31.
The Potteries was worst hit with 538 deliberately started rubbish and grass fires compared to 96 during the same period the previous year.
In the Staffordshire Moorlands the number of call-outs to similar incidents increased from 25 to 70.
It was during this three month period that more than 200-acres of moorland was destroyed on The Roaches estate near Leek, the result of a camp fire getting out of control on August 9.
There were two other serious outdoor blazes in the district at the end of June and beginning of July. These affected heathland between Thorncliffe and Fawfieldhead, and at Dimmingsdale Woods near Alton.
Glyn Luznyji, director of Prevent and Protect at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This summer we’ve faced unprecedented demand and it is really sad to see so much of our countryside devastated as a result of these fires, many of which are deliberate or at least preventable.
“These fires not only ruin beauty spots where families want to spend time with their children, but also put the wildlife at risk and take our firefighters away from important training and prevention work.
“All the while we are dealing with these incidents we must also continue to respond to other incidents.”