The number of outdoor fires across Staffordshire this summer has soared – with the summer heatwave being blamed.
Fire service bosses say the hot weather is behind the increase between April and June this year, compared to the same period in 2012.
As temperatures soared, firefighters noticed an increase in blazes – both deliberate and accidental.
Many happen in bins when people dispose of barbecue coals.
Newly released figures also show the number of fires involving property and casualties for April to June 2013 was 349, a fall of nine compared to the same quarter in 2012/13.
There were 128 accidental house fires between April and June 2013, an increase of six when compared to the same period in 2012/13.
The number of small fires excluding grass increased by 52 from 326 to 378 when compared to the same period in 2012/13, a 15 per cent increase.
Grass fires increased by 337 between April and June 2013, tripling from 164 to 501, when compared to 2012/13. Although the number of both small fires and grass fires had increased compared to the same period in the previous year, fire service bosses say the figure was still significantly lower than in 2011/12 when they stood at 545 for small fires and 699 for grass fires.
Head of risk reduction for the county’s fire service Glynn Luznyj said: “We have been lucky enough to have enjoyed a fairly long, hot summer this year, particularly when compared to 2012 when we experienced lots of rain.
“The hot weather brings with it an increase in small fires as people are out and about and the opportunity for this type of blaze to occur, either accidentally or deliberately, is far greater.
“We have been increasingly proactive in engaging with young people across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in recent years, educating them on the dangers of setting fire to rubbish bins and such like.
“The fire service teams will continue to work alongside partner services to minimise the risk of potentially life-threatening consequences of starting fires, both to young people and the community in general.”