Cross-border firebugs and teenagers hanging around Angus’s biggest white elephant are in the sights of fire chiefs aiming to quell a rise in deliberate blazes.
The three months of lockdown between April and June brought a worrying increase in fires affecting property and less serious blazes in open areas such as parks.
A first quarter tally of 16 incidents is already more than half the full-year Angus target of keeping primary fires below 28. It’s a similar picture with secondary incidents, with 54 recorded against a target of 110.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service group commander Scott Gibson told Angus scrutiny and audit councillors the traditional hotspot of Strathmartine Hospital had not been as troublesome in recent months, but the wider Monifieth and Sidlaws area remained a concern.
He said officers would be going in to Dundee schools to drive home the safety message to youngsters who are crossing the border to start fires.
“We are finding it is more towards Claverhouse and the parks areas,” Mr Gibson said.
“Children are coming from the Dundee side, so we are putting work into that to address it.
“It’s proved difficult due to a lack of face-to-face engagement and we are trying to get information packs into the school curriculum to assist with this,” he added.
He said extra attention would also be paid to Forfar and Arbroath.
It will include continuing work to discourage youngsters from hanging around the old Lochside leisure centre in Forfar country park, which has been closed since 2017 and faces continuing uncertainty over its future after a recent Court of Session ruling raised hopes it may yet be saved for community use.
Councillors were also assured the fire service will be part of the drive to cut down on issues caused by so-called dirty campers.
Kirriemuir SNP councillor Julie Bell has raised concerns about similar issues around Lintrathen Loch.
“I would suggest these issues are being caused by people who are older than youths,” she said.
“I would hate to see restrictions on those who are genuinely wild campers and do behave responsibly.
“This goes beyond wild camping and I would call it rough camping, or even dirty camping.”
SFRS area commander Gordon Pryde said: “We will be working to make sure it is a joint approach and through the local resilience partnership there is a group being set up to target this.”