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Lives at risk from arsonists setting alight to gorse in Newhaven
Fire-starters are putting lives at risk and costing taxpayers thousands of pounds.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has issued a warning after dozens of fires have been started around Newhaven in recent months.
Firefighters say they have tackled more than 40 arsons, with the majority being started at weekends between 9pm and 11pm.
The call-outs have cost taxpayers in excess of £10,000, while also causing extensive damage to the Castle Hill nature reserve.
In the most recent incident on Saturday night, 25 firefighters and two officers battled the blaze for about three hours as fire ravaged four acres of gorse.
The fire was reported by more than 60 residents and came close to mobile homes in Downland Caravan Park.
Sussex Police yesterday issued an appeal as they attempt to track three white youths, all about 18, who were seen running from the caravan site and getting into a blue hatchback at around 11.30pm on Saturday.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue borough commander Garry Collins said: “These incidents have resulted in serious damage to the environment, property and more importantly are putting local lives at risk.
“My instinct is that a group of individuals or one individual is responsible for up to 90% of these fires.”
Newhaven Denton and Meeching councillor Rod Main said: “It’s an unexpected burst of incidents, I can’t remember when there were so many.
“It’s a concern that habitats are being destroyed, it’s a concern for the Castle Hill group and it’s a concern for residents because some of that vegetation runs right to back of houses.
“You have people in this town fighting to save the beach and then you have some people who are trying to destroy what we already have.
“Why set fire to the place where you live, where is the sense in that?”
Newhaven resident Connor English, 20, witnessed the latest fire on Saturday and took pictures of the drama.
He said: “If the wind was blowing in the wrong direction it would have set the mobile homes on fire.
“It’s not acceptable at all.”
Anyone with information should contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting serial 1874 of 10/08.
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