As Winter Hill recovers from its month-long wildfire, new figures reveal the extent of arson attacks in Lancashire.
Data from the Home Office shows that one in ten house fires in the county last year were started deliberately.
The numbers reveal the scale of the problem faced by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, which tackled 105 cases of arson in the 2017-18 financial year – 10 per cent of all the house fires in the area.
Fleshing out the detail on the figures a spokesman from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said: “There were 1,052 primary dwelling fires in Lancashire for 2017/18, with a deliberate cause in 109 of them, or 10.4 per cent. This includes those where someone sets the fire in their own dwelling.
“The figure is actually an improvement on 2016/17, when it was 11.7 per cent and is consistent with the England and Wales average.
“Since 2013 five people have been killed in fires started deliberately in Lancashire – this includes those who started the fire themselves to commit suicide.”
Firefighters battled the blaze on Winter Hill, believed to be started deliberately, day in day out to get the fire under control.
The wide-spread fire started on June 28 at Rivington Pike and another later started on Winter Hill with the two eventually merging.
As the wildfire started a group of people were even caught on camera around a bonfire while firefighters turned out to extinguish the blaze at the hill.
At its height 200 firefighters were deployed to the blaze with an aircraft also dropping water on the affected area.
A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary said: “A man from Bolton was arrested on suspicion of arson and he was released then we had a 20-year-old man from Wigan who was arrested and he has been released under investigation.”
Enquiries into the blaze are still ongoing.
Meanwhile in February this year a businessman in Ribbleton was devastated after his shop storage unit went up in flames following a suspected arson.
Amar Iqbal, who had run Autopoint Car Accessories in Langcliffe Road since 2005, lost stock worth thousands of pounds in the fire.
The 36 year-old said at the time: “We are devastated, it was very emotional to wake up to these scenes.
“We have lost thousands of pounds worth of stock and we weren’t insured as it’s very difficult to insure outbuildings containing these kinds of materials.
“We have lost a lot of stock. Our shelving units have been lost.
“We are in the process of clearing up and moving on. We’ve never had any problems like this before.”
Four engines from Preston and Fulwood were called to the scene in Burnsall Place in the early hours of the morning on Monday, February 12. At least 30 calls had reported explosions in the area.
The force of the fire, which started in an the outbuilding of Autopoint Car Accessories, was said to be so fierce that it blew the metal doors off the unit and metal canisters that were projected from the blast have been pictured wrapped around metal railings.
Firefighters told the Post they believed the fire had been started after a mattress was set alight next to a storage unit for the business.
Speaking at the time watch manager for Preston Fire Station David Shaw said: “This is the sixth incident we have attended in this area in the last 10 days. The force of the blast is shown by some of the aerosols that had ended up wrapped around metal railings
“We believe that a mattress that had been discarded was set alight and this caused the fire.
“The heat from the fire caused aerosols, which were contained in the unit, to explode.
“While this was going on four fire engines, effectively the entire of Preston’s cover, was called out to attend this one incident.
“At the same time there was a crash on the M6 which fire services needed to attend.
“The people who are starting these fires are putting people’s lives at risk.
“We are actively looking at CCTV from the area and will be advising police.
“One of our officers served in Northern Ireland during the 80s and said the scenes were so bad they reminded him of his time in Crossmaglen.”
“This fire could easily have been avoided if the rubbish in the area had been discarded of properly.”
Lancashire fire service also issued guidance on how to prevent potential arson attacks.
A spokesman said: “Vigilance – reporting suspicious behaviour, even if not involving your own property personally. Implementing security measures, such as keeping outbuildings locked, ensuring there’s no easy access for a potential arsonist and keeping outside areas free of rubbish and keeping wheelie bins off the streets except when required for collection.