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North West Dumfries is area’s fire hotspot

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
North West Dumfries is area's fire hotspot

NORTH West Dumfries has become engulfed by deliberate fire-setting – with an average of 6.5 incidents now recorded every month.

Firefighters were called to put out 78 deliberate blazes in the area last year, which was almost four times higher than the next problem area, Stranraer and the Rhins.

One youth has been charged with allegedly starting 26 fires in North West Dumfries, while 18 other teens have been referred to undertake a deliberate fire setters’ intervention programme.

The shock statistics for North West Dumfries also account for 40 pe cent of the 196 total for the entire region.

North West Dumfries Councillor Graham Bell said: “There’s been a number of deliberate fires in North West Dumfries over the last few weeks too.

“It does concern me and there are a number of kids going about causing this anti-social behaviour. I know Police Scotland and the fire authorities are monitoring them, and are trying their best to stop these fires.

“But it’s very difficult right now with the longer nights. It’s not dark till 10 pm so kids are out on the prowl and are looking for things to set fire to.

“I believe it’s the same group of youths causing the problems, and I know that derelict properties are a major problem.”

The figures were released as part of an annual performance report by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in Dumfries and Galloway.

The report, which covers April 2021-March 2022, will be tabled at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s police, fire and rescue sub-committee today.

Councillor Andy Ferguson, who also represents North West Dumfries, described the situation as a “worrying trend”.

He said: “I’d be looking for the members of the committee to investigate this further and find out more information.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Services (SFRS) report states: “Dumfries and Galloway area has seen a sharp increase in the number of deliberate fires compared to previous years.

“Youth disorder has been attributed to the rise in fires in areas of Stranraer, Annan and Dumfries, and in particular North West Dumfries.

“Incident locations identified include empty properties in Lochside and other areas in Lincluden including the Abbey and College Mains Farm.

“SFRS have been working in partnership with Police Scotland, Community Safety Teams, Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Wheatley Group to reduce incidents of this type.

“We have attended various community meetings throughout the region including Lochside Tasking Group. This approach has also been supported by Community Improvement Partnership police officers who work with Wheatley Group.

“This approach has resulted in one youth being charged with 26 deliberate fires in the North West Dumfries ward area.

“There have also been 18 youths referred to SFRS to undertake deliberate fire setters intervention in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Of the 196 deliberate fire setting incidents attended, many of these incidents were attributed to grass or woodland (73) or other outdoors including refuse, bins and other outdoor structures (76).

“Most fires occur between 6pm and 11pm with the weekend nights being most popular. SFRS continue to work with partner agencies as a priority to drive down all deliberate fires.”