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It was a busy night for Plymouth fire crews dealing with firework related incidents throughout the city.
In 3 hours they had 25 call outs including: Wheelie bins deliberately set on fire; rogue fireworks setting hedgerows and shrubbery alight and out of control bonfires. But in scenes not seen in the city for years soem fire crews were verbally abused and threatened as a gang of 35 youths from Crownhill who tried to prevent them putting out their bonfire.
Eye witnesses had seen the gang put a wheelchir, push-bikes and plastic wheelie bins on the fire which was situated in a park underneath high-voltage overhead power lines. Heart's Andy Ballantyne was allowed to shadow Group Manager Dale Durante for the evening:
I arrived at Ivybridge fire station and before we headed out I spoke to Group manager Dale Durante about what we might expect.
Within minutes we were heading to our first call - A vigilant householder had spotted a fire in dense shrubbery near his property - It's origin was thought to be a rogue firework
Then our first out of control bonfire in a park but a new piece of equipment meant distance was no problem.
Here's crew manager Jason Cabbard:
Next to Ringmore Way where 2 seperate crews from Crownhill and Greenbank were dealing with two seperate fires a few hundred metres apart.
The more serious, a set of bins situated behind a block of flats. Crew manager Neil Winsett:
We would return later to find safety matting under a set of childrens swings in a playground had been deliberately set alight.
This would likely mean the playground would be closed until the council repaired the damage at an unknown extra cost.
Now to the potentially dangerous situation - We arrived to see firecrews being stopped by around 35 youths from putting a bonfire out.
The lady who called police told us why it was so dangerous.
As crews tried to pack-up they were verbally abused and threatened but continued doing their job taking into account their own safety.
We would return later with a police escort as the bonfire was re-lit and more dangerous items were placed on the fire.
This time the youths went away after being told the error of their ways.
By now it was around 21:30 and my night had come to an end - I was exhausted but the crews from Crownhill & Greenbank have to complete their 15 hour shift dealing with this and other incidents like people trapped in lifts road traffic collisions and house fires.
The final word will go to Dale Durante who wanted to pay tribute to the crews on the ground but also the unsung heroes in the control room.
The ones who have to sort out the logistics to makesure response times are met and cover is sorted throughout Devon and Somerset.