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Children 'start one in four of all fires'

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FIREFIGHTERS in Croydon are braced for a spate of deliberate blazes over the summer – with bored primary school pupils the most likely causes. Officers have been visiting schools and youth centres in a bid to tackle youngsters' desire to play with flames, with under-10s thought to be the cause of 1 in 4 deliberate fires. But Peter Clark, who organises the educational visits for London Fire Brigade, said he was still expecting a spike in blazes throughout August. He said: "We are anticipating and gearing up for an increase in instances over the summer period as there are young people who will engage and obviously a lot depends on the weather." His concerns were backed by Bob Penny, Station Manager at London Fire Brigade, who said: "The thing with deliberate fires is they are seasonal. If we have a long hot summer firstly those that choose to engage in it are out and secondly a lot more dry combustible material for them to set alight." Mr Penny said it was often an innocent fascination of fire that got out of control. He said: "As they get older it can be a manifestation of antisocial behaviour, but certainly a lot of incidences are very young children simply being fascinated with fire, the consequences of which can be quite severe." There were more than 200 deliberate fires in Croydon over the past two years, with Fieldway the worst affected. A deliberate fire could be anything from an out-of-control bonfire to a torched car. Mr Clark said the New Addington and Fieldway estate's high youth population was a probable reason for its once high number of deliberate fires, but stressed this is now in sharp decline. He added: "Last year we had one who was climbing out of their bedroom window and shimmying down their drainpipe after being put to bed in the evening, then going out and setting fire to things." Mr Clark encourages parents to share concerns about fire-setting behaviour among their children, so they can be spoken to before things get out of hand. In June, two teenagers were arrested on suspicion of arson and manslaughter after a fire in a derelict building killed homeless father-of-two Sylvester Menzelevski, 35. The 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl have been bailed to return pending more enquiries over the fire at the former Sea Cadets building in Davenant Road, South Croydon. Partly prompted by that disaster, officials have also been upping efforts to make sure derelict buildings are properly boarded-up. Acting Chief Inspector Pete McGarry, said officials have identified about 90 unused buildings in the borough. Authorities have also been working to remove potential fuel sources such as fly-tipped rubbish and abandoned cars. Deliberate fires in Croydon: 05/2011 to 04/2012: 289 Deliberate fires in Croydon: 05/2012 to 04/2013: 201 Deliberate fires by ward 04/2011 to 04/2013: (brackets denote last six months up to and including 04/2013) 1. Fieldway: 72 (6) 2. Broad Green: 51 (12) 3. New Addington: 48 (6) West Thornton: 31 (6) 4. Selhurst: 27 (4) 5. Fairfield: 25 (4) 6. Waddon: 24 (5) 7. Heathfield: 23 (2) 8. Ashburton: 21 (4) 9. Thornton Heath: 20 (4) 10. South Norwood: 19 (5) * The highest across London is Cray Valley East, in Bromley, with 135. Fieldway comes in at number 7 out of all London wards Deliberate road vehicle fires by ward 05/2011 to 04/2013 1. New Adddington: 24 (3) 2. Fieldway: 14 (1) 3. Ashburton: 10 (1) 4. Broad Green: 10 (2) 5. Coulsdon East: 9 (2) 6. Selhurst: 8 (0) 7. Thornton Heath: 8 (1) 8. Waddon: 8 (3) 9. Addiscombe: 7 (0) 10. Heathfield: 7 (1) Deliberate fires in homes by ward 05/2011 to 04/2013 1. West Thornton 8 (2) 2. Broad Green: 7 (1) 3. Waddon: 6 (0) 4. Addiscombe: 4 (1) 5. Bensham Manor: 4 (1) 6. Fairfield: 4 (0) 7. Thornton Heath: 3 (1) 8. Fieldway: 2 (0) 9. New Addington: 2 (0) 10. Selhurst: 2 (0)

Children 'start one in four of all fires'


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