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Anti Heathfire Operation Targets Arsonists


7:42am 18th April 2014

An operation's been launched to protect Dorset's healthland from arsonists and fires caused by reckless behaviour.

It comes just days after 44 fire fighters tackled a blaze at Moors Valley Country Park, which it's now known was started deliberately.

Operation Heathland will see a combination of proactive policing and public education.

Last year's initiative saw the number of heath fires fall from 163 in 2011 to 111 in 2013.

Residents and visitors to the heath are asked to follow some simple steps:

If you are on a heath when a fire occurs please leave by the nearest exit and call 999 with as much information as possible.

You can also help by reporting any anti-social behaviour on the heaths either to the wardens or to the police on 101.

Please remember it is not safe to light barbecues or camp fires on any heathland site.

Do not ride motorbikes on the heath - it causes irreparable damage to the land and wildlife.

Police Sergeant Adrian Thompson said: "Anyone caught starting a fire on a heath will be prosecuted. Fires on heathlands not only cause irreparable damage to endangered plants and animals but also put people living nearby in danger."

"Operation Heathland will see high visibility police patrols across the heathland areas in Poole, Bournemouth, East Dorset and the Purbecks to reduce instances of malicious fires, damage from fire, damage from vehicles, theft of items from the heath and wildlife offences."

Paul Attwell, Urban Heaths Partnership team manager, said: "We would like to hear from anyone who regularly visit the heaths and would be willing to give up a small amount of their time to help us protect it. To find out more please call 01202 642787, email urbanheaths@dorsetcc.gov.uk or visit the Community Heath Watch - Dorset Facebook page."

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