There has been a spate of deliberate fires in Bognor over the weekend in various locations including parks, residential areas, and near to commercial premises, the fire service said.
In one incident over the weekend, residents living near a playground on Hook Lane in Pagham had to chase off a group of young people who had set the climbing frame on fire, a fire service spokesman said.
Within just four hours on Friday night, firefighters from Bognor were called out to deal with four fires – all of which are believed to have been started deliberately, the spokesman said.
Crews were called to a fire in the open involving tyres in Harbour Road, Pagham, at 5.46pm on Friday.
At 7.36pm, they were called to reports of multiple fires in woodland off Harbour Road, Pagham.
An area of around 5sqm of cut grass was set on fire in a field near Whitfield Close at 7.50pm.
Firefighters also attended a bin on fire in Marine Drive West at 9.04pm.
Over the course of the weekend there were further incidents, including at 3.32pm on Saturday when firefighters from Bognor were mobilised to reports of a fire in the open in a field off Marylands Crescent, which is believed to have been caused by young people playing with fire, the spokesman said.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is now working with Arun District Council’s anti-social behaviour team over the issue.
Together, agencies are warning that what may start out as a small fire can quickly escalate to a potentially life-threatening blaze and can also divert vital resources away from other serious incidents.
Chris Bowles, the Fire Station Manager for Bognor, East Wittering and Selsey, said: “The number of suspected deliberate fires we have dealt with in the town is concerning, and I would urge those responsible to think twice about their actions.
“Fires started deliberately can be particularly dangerous because they generally develop much faster.
"A fire that is started in a bin can spread to nearby properties or vehicles.
"What may have started as a small fire very quickly puts people’s lives, homes and businesses at risk.”
The fire service works closely with the police and always seeks to prosecute those people who have started fires deliberately, the spokesman said.
Shop management teams and members of the public are being asked to be vigilant.
Anyone with any information about arson in the area is asked to call 999 in an emergency, 101 for a non-emergency, or to call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The fire service recommends taking the following steps to reduce the risk of arson:
• Do not allow rubbish to build up around your home or business
• Restrict access to where waste is stored
• Store bins away from buildings to prevent the spread of fire
• Secure commercial bin lids
• Keep communal areas clear of rubbish and do not store things that obstruct exit routes
• Ensure that debris and litter does not accumulate around trees and shrubs, particularly when the weather is dry and hot
• Have skips collected as soon as they are full
• Report any build-up of rubbish and fly-tipping to Arun District Council’s Cleansing team www.arun.gov.uk/contact-us