UNLAWFUL lighting of fires ‘won’t be tolerated’ was the message from Cumbria’s police and fire services following several concerning reports from a Kendal woodland.

It comes off the back of a ‘great increase’ in incidents related to small fires in Cumbria in the last month.

Jamie Coward, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) station manager, said firefighters had been called out to the woodland behind Oak Lane – off Kendal Parks Road – four times in recent weeks, as residents expressed misgivings about ‘youths’ lighting small fires from scrub and pieces of wood.

“If those fires were left to develop it could have created a more serious incident," said Mr Coward.

“Our main concern is escalation of this. It’s a campfire today but is it going to be a large wildfire tomorrow somewhere else?”

He said the fires were having a significant impact on CFRS resources and stressed such behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Sergeant Suzanne Scott O’Neill, of Kendal Police Station, said a police patrol was put on following the first three incidents, which all took place in the early evening. The fourth incident then occurred at around 11.20 pm.

“It would indicate that they have come back later on in the evening to purposefully light more fires,” she said. “We are not saying that they have but it may indicate a more deliberate act rather than youths in the woods.”

She said police might start treating further reports as arson rather than anti-social behaviour.

A resident who lives behind the woodland, who did not wish to be named, expressed concern that the small fires could spread to the trees and destroy the woodland.

He said: “If they were just having a drink, not having a fire, it would be all right. I have never heard any noise from (the woods) anyway.”

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