September 29th, 2016

Police probing 34 arsons in two hours in Frankley

Updated: 6:12 pm, Mar 30, 2016

THE POLICE are investigating 34 wheelie bin fires which all took place in Frankley in the space of two hours, ironically, during Arson Awareness Week.

And West Midlands Fire Service say the blazes, which all happened in the area from 11pm last Wednesday and 1.17pm last Thursday (March 23 and 24), were started deliberately.

A spokesperson for the fire service confirmed 25 firefighters from numerous crews across South Birmingham, including Northfield, Kings Norton and Woodgate Valley, tackled the incidents which were all within a square half-mile of each other.

And, he added, because of the close proximity of some of the bins to homes, it was a miracle no one was injured.

“It was lucky that because of the spate and the response, we had a lot of crews in the area to get to them and extinguish them.

“There was still a lot of damage done in such a short space of time and the act was highly irresponsible.”

Arson Awareness Week takes place between March 21 and 27.

In the last year alone, West Midlands firefighters spent 4,000 hours at arsons when their time could have been better spent attending more serious incidents that had not been deliberately caused. Of those more than 2,100 related to rubbish being set on fire.

Following the blazes, Coun Andy Cartwright, Frankley Parish Council, the Frankley Street Champions, Longbridge Neighbourhood Watch, Birmingham City Council’s Waste Team and Labour candidate for Longbridge Carol Griffiths all worked together to find out who had been affected and to get replacement wheelie bins to them.

Coun Cartwright said: “It was very concerning, especially for those who woke up to find their bins alight.

“And, as the fire service have said, this could have been a lot worse – the close proximity of some of the bins could have led to a house fire or we could even be looking at a fatality.”

Speaking about the reaction afterwards he said: “The community has all rallied around to get everything sorted – it was a great example of teamwork which we see a lot here.”

Members of Longbidge Neighbourhood Watch have also been delivering leaflets to urge anyone who sees anything suspicious in the area to report it to the police.

West Midlands Police have urged any witnesses to the bin fires or anyone with any information on them to call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.