FIRE crews keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s unprecedented summer of deliberate grassland blazes have kicked off an education programme in a bid to stop would-be arsonists in their tracks.

Figures show 1,065 arsons took place in 2018, with 877 taking place on ‘grassland’ - a term used to represent fields and parkland - representing a 38 per cent increase on the previous year’s reports.

A particular pinch-point occurred between June 30 and August 30 in 2018, when more than 100 call-outs to deliberate grassland blazes recorded as ‘serious’ were dealt with in Barnsley - more than double when compared to the same spell in 2017.

A spokesman from SYFR told the Chronicle: “Barnsley had some very serious grassland fires last summer, incidents not helped by the fact we had long spells of hot, dry weather. If anything the spring has continued like that so we’re expecting a busy summer."

High temperatures and prolonged periods of dry weather enabled blazes to spread across hundreds of feet in a short space of time, as was witnessed in Dodworth, where homes were within metres of going up in flames.

Anyone with information about people starting fires in their area should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.