Young firebugs have sent figures rocketing with a spate of incidents around the dilapidated Strathmartine Hospital in recent months.
Dundee youths have been blamed for the sharp spike in Scottish Fire and Rescue Service call-outs to what are termed secondary fires – involving refuse, grass and woodland being deliberately set alight – which saw 15 incidents between April and June.
Fire chiefs are working with local community leaders and targeting diversionary youth engagement towards Dundee schools in an effort to cut the worrying trend.
The sharp increase was reported as part of the quarterly performance update for Angus, delivered to members of the local authority’s scrutiny and audit committee.
SFRS group manager Roy Dunsire told councillors a total of 68 deliberate fires were reported in Angus, including 13 primary incidents of properties and structures such as sheds and farm buildings being set alight.
Of the 55 deliberate secondary fires, 15 were in the Monifieth and Sidlaw ward.
The total number has more than trebled from the last quarter and is well above the five-year-average of 48.
“Evidence indicates that youths were the biggest perpetrators of deliberate secondary fires in Angus during the first quarter,” he said.
“In Monifieth and Sidlaw, intelligence from Police Scotland suggests youths from neighbouring North East and Strathmartine wards of Dundee are starting these fires.
“The unoccupied Strathmartine Hospital site, Burnside of Duntrune and Emmock Road were frequently targeted.”
The quarterly report revealed 16 accidental house fires in Angus during the period, which is below the area’s five-year average and continues a downward trend of the past 12 months.
Half a dozen of the reported dwelling fires were extinguished before the arrival of firefighters.
Mr Dunsire added: “The main cause continues to be cooking left unattended and contributory factors included distraction and being under the influence of alcohol.“