Teens’ dune fires ‘could cost a life’ warns 999

Sand dunes at St Anne's, near to where the fires were started.
Sand dunes at St Anne's, near to where the fires were started.
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Youngsters are being warned of the dangers of wasting fire service time after crews were called to six separate fires on the sand dunes at St Annes.

Teenagers were spotted near the scene opposite the former Pontins holiday camp off Clifton Drive North and are suspected of starting the fires between 2pm and 7pm on Wednesday.

Sarah Smithen, 21, from Lytham Road, South Shore, called the fire brigade after spotting two fires while out walking her dogs with her boyfriend Steven Orchard, her aunt and her aunt’s partner, at around 7pm.

“I could see the flames from the beach and they were getting bigger and bigger,” she said. “It’s dangerous. We had dogs with us and they go around the dunes – what if they had got caught in the fire, or someone had fallen down one of the steep banks into the flames?

“This is probably one of the nicest parts of the beach around Blackpool, then people like this go and ruin it.

“Their parents need to talk to them about this.”

John Taylor, a spokesman for Lancashire Fire Service, said the arsonists could be putting other people at risk, as well as themselves.

“Having to send fire engines to unnecessary situations like these could cause a delay when a response is needed to a life threatening incident – if someone is trapped following a crash for instance,” he said.

“Our crews visit schools to try to educate children about this sort of thing, but we also need parents to play their part in getting this message across.

“We definitely get more of these kinds of incidents during the school holidays.”

Crew manager Jonny Williams, from St Annes fire station, said: “We got quite a few calls to the sand dunes with the kids being off – at least six on Wednesday and at one stage we were fighting about 70 square metres of fire.

“We’re just going to try and make our presence known and we’ve got things in progress up there to remind people of how dangerous it is. If there’d been a wind it could’ve been a lot worse.”

A Lancashire Police spokesman said it had been informed about the incidents by the fire service and they would be monitoring the situation.