South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said they were “appalled” after they were repeatedly called to deliberate fires on Sunday night. They added that it was “frustrating” at a time when people are meant to be “pulling together”.
In a Facebook post, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said: “Appalled, baffled, angry, upset. Our firefighters were called to repeat fires overnight – all of which were started deliberately.
“You name it, they extinguished it – rubbish, cars, bins and even some scrub land. We had far more such calls than a normal night.
“Really frustrating that, when we’re meant to be pulling together, a small minority of people do things like this.
“Please be vigilant folks – speak to your youngsters about the dangers of fire setting and report any suspicious behaviour to our police colleagues. Help us to help you!”
The post prompted a furious reaction from other Facebook users.
One commented: “I saw one in the trees along the main road going through Kimberworth and the fire service were there!
A third wrote: “What is wrong with people? As if there’s not enough to deal with as it is.”
One more added: “Some zero tolerance policing with proper punishments is needed.”
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) said the spike in deliberate fires over the weekend reported by fire services was “unbelievable”.
NFCC chair Roy Wilsher said: “During these unprecedented times, the fire service is working hard to ensure the safety of the community, doing their upmost to protect the most vulnerable.
“However, it is unbelievable that we have seen a rise in deliberate fires reported in some areas in the past few days.
“All services are already under increased pressure. This is just piling more on to already stretched resources.”
It comes as Boris Johnson put the UK on lockdown last night in a bid to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Draconian new measures which will be enforced by police include a ban on public gatherings of more than two people and the closure of all shops selling non-essential items.
The Prime Minister ordered people to only leave the house to shop for basic necessities “as infrequently as possible”.
They can also go out for medical reasons, to provide care to a vulnerable person, to exercise once a day or travel to work if “absolutely necessary”.
Mr Johnson was under mounting pressure to impose tougher restrictions after claims that some people were flouting social distancing advice.
It comes as there have been 6,650 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, with the death toll at 335.
Published at Tue, 24 Mar 2020 12:18:00 +0000