Parents are being urged to help Cleveland Fire Brigade make it a Happy Easter for everyone by continuing to support the drive to reduce deliberate fires.
It comes after figures for the same holiday break last year showed a 61% increase on 2016.
Dave Turton, Head of Community Safety at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Although the lack of rainfall over the last Easter holidays was probably a factor in this massive increase, the simple fact is there were still 460 fires deliberately set over a very short period. We are urging parents to make sure they know what their children are doing over the holidays and make sure they are staying out of trouble.
“This is the first big school break of the year and the longer days and warmer weather means more young people are outside and for a small minority this results in irresponsible behaviour.
“Make no mistake, deliberate fire-setting is a blight on the whole community. Buildings, wheelie bins, rubbish and grasslands have all been targeted in recent years. This can cause serious damage to property and the environment, and divert our resources away from real emergencies.
“We will not tolerate arson. We are working closely with the Police and Local Authorities, and immediate action will be taken against anyone caught deliberately starting a fire. We want everyone to enjoy the Easter break, but ask them to be responsible.”
For Easter 2017 (7 April to 24 April) there were 460 deliberate fires Cleveland Fire Brigade attended; 160 incidents in Redcar and Cleveland, 150 in Middlesbrough, 83 in Stockton and 67 in Hartlepool.
Compared with Easter 2016 (March 25 to April 11) there were 161 deliberate fires Cleveland Fire Brigade attended; 38 incidents in Redcar and Cleveland, 28 in Middlesbrough, 18 in Stockton and 17 in Hartlepool.
Superintendent Bev Gill, from Cleveland Police, said: “Whilst some people may believe that by setting fire to an object they may not hurt anyone, arsonists do take risks which could leave someone seriously injured or could potentially kill someone. This type of behaviour will not be tolerated and we will work together with Cleveland Fire Brigade to ensure that anyone committing such acts is put before the courts wherever possible.”
If anyone has any information about arson or anti-social behaviour in their area, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Police on 101.