Young people urged to be careful after spate of 'deliberate' fires in Harrogate

Lucy Morgan, from Harrogate, went on to be name Miss North Yorkshire Galaxy following her incident. Picture: Adrian Murray
Lucy Morgan, from Harrogate, went on to be name Miss North Yorkshire Galaxy following her incident. Picture: Adrian Murray

Fire officers have warned that flames can spread ‘as fast you can run’ after a spate of deliberate fires being started in Harrogate.

Crews from Harrogate were called to Spa Lane in Starbeck last week after a group of children had set a number of hay bales alight.

No injuries were reported from the incident on May 10 but the case has prompted officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS)to urge young people to be careful.

Station Manager for Prevention at NYFRS, Bob Hoskins, said: “At the moment we have got a bit of a spate of deliberate fire starting in our area, around the Hydro, Jennyfields and Starbeck.

“Since the Easter holidays we have seen a rise in people setting fire to derelict sheds and things like that. It has a number of consequences.

“It takes up crews time on deliberate fires so it is a drain on resources and because it is so dry, particularly with the season we are heading into, fire can spread amazingly quickly in dry grass, some of them can spread as fast as you can run in standing corn fields.”

The people responsible for starting fires deliberately have not been officially identified but Mr Hoskins did say that in each case it has “generally been younger people”.

He said: “Some of them start a little camp fire to sit around and that can get out of hand or it gets a bit silly and they might throw something on it.

“A small fire on a shed has the potential to spread to a much bigger fire. Across the county we have seen examples of a wheelie bin fire setting fire to a supermarket in Selby.

“People need to know what the consequences are and that if they just start a fire and run off and leave it, it can and does spread.

“There has got to be an awareness, obviously don’t start them because it does drain our resources but more importantly people need to know they can get hurt and they are putting themselves in danger.”

Harrogate resident, Lucy Morgan, has reinforced the call by the fire service claiming that she “thought she was invincible” before a fire incident left her hospitalised for nearly a month.

In March 2014, Lucy was left with third and second degree burns across a quarter of her body after a small back garden fire went wrong.

She said: “We were sitting outside my friends house around a little fire pit in the garden and someone put something on the fire to relight it. All the grass set alight and because I wasn’t wearing suitable clothing, I was wearing a scuba and nylon dress, that melted to my skin.

“I would never in a million years have ever thought of myself as being a burns victim, I used to look at them and think how awful it was.

“I remember saying to my friend I’m going to be scarred for life, I know it.

“I always thought I was invincible.”

Lucy was in the burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital for four weeks and had three skin graft operations on her hand and legs.

Today she continues to have Derma roller treatments to improve the scar tissue.

She said: “It’s just how unpredictable fire is, you never know what can make it worse, just things like clothing, you can never predict how dangerous the fire is. It was something as simple as the fuel that was being used to relight the fire, I’d had no idea that fumes could even explode, you never know how much damage it can do so quickly.”