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12 July 2014, 08:56
There'll be increased patrols of a wooded area near Eastleigh for the next few weeks to try to prevent more arson attacks.
Recent patrols have discovered the remains of a number of deliberate fires set within the wooded areas such as Zionshill Copse in Chandler's Ford, where discarded materials including gas canisters, aerosols and lighter fuel cans have also been found.
Officers from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS), together with Hampshire Constabulary and Test Valley Borough Council, will now do increased patrols over the summer.
HFRS's Community Safety Officer, Paul Francis said:
"With the summer holidays nearly upon us, we would encourage all parents to remind their children of the dangers of starting fires and to ensure they are aware that deliberately starting a fire, of any size, is treated as arson, the consequences of which can be extremely serious."
All agencies will be increasing patrols over the forthcoming weeks within the area, and they are asking local residents to report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately.
Paul Francis said:
"The woods around the Knightwood area have historically been a target for arson activity due to its many secluded spots. Starting fires, particularly those involving exploding materials such as canisters, pose a serious risk of injury.
"The wooded area itself is also extremely dry at the moment and a small fire could quickly develop into a much larger blaze, igniting surrounding grassland and bushes.
"The demands placed upon the fire service in dealing with these kinds of needless incidents often stretches resources, challenging our ability to provide an effective response to those that are more serious, perhaps life- threatening."