Gwent grass fires leave devastation
9:15am Tuesday 27th March 2012 in Video
IN THE THICK OF IT: Firefighters tackle flames with beaters at the blaze in Barrackswood. PICTURE: Mark Lewis
FIREFIGHTERS battled for hours in both Newport and Risca yesterday to bring grass fires under control.
A trail of devastation was left in Newport after arsonists set a blaze that spread across 15 acres between Comfrey Close, in Allt-yr-yn, and Barrackswood, towards the TA barracks.
A total of 17 fire officers took at least five hours to bring the fire, which broke out on wasteland surrounded by houses and a children’s park, under control.
As firefighters damped down the scene, heat could still be felt rising from the ground.
Firefighters also tackled another huge grass fire in Ty-Sign yesterday afternoon.
Claire and Damon Rands, who live in Mons Close, Allt- Yr-Yn, with their four children, said there were fires in the area behind their home most years, but yesterday’s blaze was the biggest they had seen.
Mr Rands said the flames were metres away fromtheir back-garden fence and they could hear a popping noise.
Another resident in Allt- Yr-Yn Road said her neighbours got a hosepipe and went down to the fire to help fight the flames. Three crews from Malpas, Maindee and Duffryn attended the fire, which South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s head of fire crime Chris Hadfield said was deliberately set.
He said that although it didn’t put residents’ homes at risk, it did come close.
Meanwhile, residents reported seeing black smoke billowing into the sky as firefighters tackled a grass fire near Eppynt Close, Ty Sign.
Five fire engines from Risca, Abercarn, Cefn Fforest, Cwmbran and New Inn attended after it was reported at 2.21pm.
Those living in Cader Idris Close watched as the flames leapt above the tree line and destroyed grassland around 500 metres away.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, rang the fire service after seeing ash coming down from the mountain above her home.
She said grass fires happen regularly in the area but this is the worst she has seen.
There were 20 firefighters on hand to tackle the blaze, which covered an area about 500 metres square.
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service group manager Alison Kibblewhite said crews arrived on the scene just before 3pm and were still at the scene at 5pm.
The cause of the fire in Risca is not yet known.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Fires defy belief
THERE has been plenty to enjoy during the current spell of unseasonably warm weather.
But it is a great pity that sunshine brings with it the usual spate of grass fires in and around Gwent. Quite what the thought processes are of those who set these fires is difficult to fathom.
Yet these mindless idiots appear on mountainsides whenever we have a period of dry, sunny weather. Firefighters are never short of work when we get weather like we have had in the last week.
The firebugs behind these incidents seem to think their actions are little more than harmless pranks. Yet there have been cases in recent years when grass fires that have been deliberately started have proved difficult to control and ended up endangering lives and property.
Surely there are better things to do in this glorious weather than wander around the countryside setting fires?