FIRE bosses are urging residents to keep safe on Bonfire Night – a period which has seen almost 200 blazes in the last few years.
The plea from police and fire bosses comes after the county’s firefighters saw an increase in call outs on Bonfire Night last year.
Many of the blazes involved bonfire that had grown out of control and trees that had been set alight by stray fireworks – others involved cars and wheelie bins that had been deliberately set alight.
A Freedom of Information request, submitted by the Chronicle, shows there were 35 incidents in Barnsley alone last year – 20 of which were started deliberately.
It’s an increase on the previous year’s figures, which saw 31 call outs to incidents across the borough – although this was much lower than the 81 incidents in 2019.
Before that anomaly, figures were rising year-on-year in Barnsley, with 46 incidents in 2018, 29 in 2017 and almost 40 in 2016.
Most of the blazes on each occasion were starting deliberately.
In a bid to combat these rises, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue bosses have teamed with the police to remind residents of the dangers of fireworks and bonfires.
Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community and safety department, said: “We always want people to enjoy Bonfire Night, and we never aim to ruin anyone’s fun, but it’s really important people are careful out there.
“This year we’re specifically asking people to stay with their bonfires, as leaving them unattended tends to end badly. We’re also asking people to ensure they are sensible in how they position their fireworks, so they are away from bushes and trees.
“Finally, we’d like to ask that people bring their bins in from off the street, and let us have any information on deliberate fire-setting that they may have.
“These details can be shared with us anonymously via our FireStoppers service people just need to call 0800 169 5558 or visit firestoppersreport.co.uk.”
Since the start of October, officers and firefighters have been doing joint patrols and visits to local schools and community centres, offering advice around Halloween and bonfire safety.
Meanwhile senior officers from South Yorkshire Police are also assuring local residents that they will be taking a no-tolerance approach to antisocial behaviour this year.
The force lead for what is known collectively as Operation Dark Nights, Chief Inspector Lee Carlson, added: “We want everybody to enjoy Halloween and Bonfire night; we know it can be an enjoyable time of the year for most people, but for some the festivities alongside the darker nights can make them feel vulnerable.
“We want you to know that whilst the majority of people will enjoy the period without any issues, the few people that do want to cause a problem will not be tolerated and our extra officers will be there to deal with them.
“Our neighbourhood officers have already been in schools talking to young people about antisocial behaviour and the effect it can have on people living near them, as well as giving them guidance around keeping.”