Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging householders to be vigilant after a spate of deliberate fires in wheelie bins in Leek town centre.
"These fires were deliberate and reckless. Fire spreads rapidly and setting fire to a wheelie bin outside a window or against a house can endanger the lives of people inside."
Carl Mason, Station Manager.
Arsonists set fire to a total of 10 bins to the rear of Cruso Street and on Strangman Street in the early hours of Wednesday, November 13.
Carl Mason, Station Manager of Leek and Biddulph said: “Luckily, although the incidents occurred between about midnight and 1.30am on a weekday, they were spotted and reported quickly by members of the public.
“If the fires hadn’t been reported so promptly, we might have been dealing with a very serious incident. Some of the bins were against buildings or in an alleyway of terraced housing and the fire could have potentially spread to domestic property.
“These fires were deliberate and reckless. Fire spreads rapidly and setting fire to a wheelie bin outside a window or against a house can endanger the lives of people inside.
“Arson is a serious crime and anyone convicted faces a lengthy prison sentence and a significant fine. Furthermore, it comes with a financial impact as each time the fire service is called out it results in a significant cost to the taxpayer.”
Firefighters from Leek used hose reel jets to extinguish the fires. The first incident was just after midnight when a bin positioned against a building on Strangman Street was set alight. This was followed by nine bins in an alleyway to the rear of homes in Cruso Street being set on fire just before 1.30am. The fire also affected outbuildings and could potentially have spread to a house.
“We would ask householders to help prevent potential risks to their property by only putting out their refuse bins on collection day, or the night before if their bins are emptied early, and to ensure bins are whenever possible positioned well away from property and put away securely once emptied.”
“Most importantly, we recommend working smoke alarms are fitted on every floor of homes. Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service offers free Home Fire Risk Checks and will fit free smoke alarms – all residents are eligible for this service and it could save someone’s life.”
Nicola Kemp, Waste Collection Manager for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, added: “Leek town centre poses some challenges because residents living in terraced properties have limited outdoor space to store their bins on their property. We are currently working with residents to tidy up alleyways where wheelie bins are being permanently stored, where they may restrict access for residents and the emergency services.
“We advise that bins are put out the night before collection at the very earliest and that residents get in touch to discuss concerns as we can provide alternative refuse containers.”
Staffordshire Police is appealing for witnesses and ask anyone with information to contact PC Andrew Platt on 101, quoting incident number 38 of November 13. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
For more details about Home Fire Risk Checks or to book a visit, call Freephone 0800 0241 999. The service is provided by firefighters or technicians who give fire safety advice, help householders plan an escape route and fit free smoke alarms. All staff carry a photo identity card.