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Suspected arson attack on Brownhills Common

Staffordshire | News | Published:

This was the scene of devastation following a suspected arson attack on Brownhills Common.

This was the scene of devastation following a suspected arson attack on Brownhills Common.

Crews from Cannock and Aldridge were called to tackle the blaze on the area of grass and shrubland yesterday afternoon.

The fire spread to around 300 sq metres of the nature reserve.

Click on the image on the right to see more pictures from the scene.

It came as fire bosses in Staffordshire today warned that beauty spots across the county are at risk from arsonists after more than 60 grass fires in the past week.

The caution comes just seven days after the county's fire and rescue service launched a Flames Aren't Games campaign to combat deliberately started grass fires as the Easter holidays loom.

Some 63 fires have been started throughout the county over the week - a rate of nine a day.

Cannock Chase and the Hednesford Hills are among the hotspots targeted by youths.

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At the weekend firefighters were called to Hednesford where a 50ft by 50ft area of gorse was ablaze. The fire, off Brickworks Road, at 8.40pm on Sunday was started deliberately. On Saturday crews were sent to Stile Cop in Rugeley at 5.15pm where an area of woodland was alight. More than 30 firefighters were required to deal with some incidents

Fire service spokeswoman Sarah Collis said it was an unusually high number of grass fires in a week.

Today Glynn Luznyj, head of risk reduction at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue, warned woodland blazes could burn underground for several days, with long-term consequences for the landscape.

"A grass fire can quickly destroy an entire ecosystem which can then take years to recover or may never recover," he said.

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"They quickly burn down underground and can continue to burn for a very long time which means firefighting resources have to keep a constant presence to monitor underground hotspots.

"In previous years we've been in attendance at the same grass fire for over a week because it has spread so deep," said Mr Luznyj.

"The aftermath is a large blackened area which ruins the surrounding countryside."

He stressed animals were also at risk, which placed a further burden on the fire service's resources.

"If there is a grass fire nearby a field full of cows, we have to make sure the animals are moved to a safe place which can be a very dangerous task as they are large animals which are easily spooked."

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