Angus arson attacks are at a three-year high, prompting calls for more support to be given to firefighters.
The county witnessed 145 cases of deliberate fire-raising in the year to April, compared to 103 in 2016-17 and 117 the year before.
The new figures, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, has led to Angus MP Kirstene Hair condemning those who put lives – including their own – at risk through wilful fireraising.
She also criticised the Scottish Government and said there should be adequate funding in place to handle an “unpalatable” increase, prompting a response pointing towards a £15.5 million Scottish Fire and Rescue Service increase in spending capacity this year.
Ms Hair has previously spoken out about fireraising at a key Angus troublespot – the former Strathmartine Hospital on the outskirts of Dundee – and said the difficult summer had exposed stretched resources across the UK.
“It is an individual’s responsibility to think before they commit a crime that could end someone’s life, perhaps their own,” she said.
“The recent hot and dry conditions experienced across the UK means SFRS already have enough to do without this increase in malicious fires.
“No one in Angus wants to see moorland fires of the scale currently being seen in England.
“Fire crews across the UK are becoming stretched because of the weather.”
The MP continued: “The SNP Government was recently given a tax break which must be spent on supporting our emergency services.
“Earlier this year, my colleagues and I successfully negotiated the end of an SNP policy for Scottish Fire and Rescue to pay VAT to the treasury.
“This should raise £10m a year, enough to pay for 350 extra firefighters.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This year the Scottish Government increased the spending capacity of SFRS by £15.5 million.
“Much progress has been made through fire reform, passed by Parliament, and SFRS service transformation plans will see it do more to meet new and emerging risks and in keeping Scotland’s communities safe.
“As a national service, SFRS is able to seamlessly draw on resources and specialist reserves from across Scotland to deal with incidents and to provide business-as-usual cover.”
Less than two months ago, it was revealed that firefighters have spent more than 31 hours in total battling blazes at the derelict Strathmartine site in the past five years, which remains a magnet for firebugs.
Crews were called out 60 times in as many months to the former hospital, which has been closed since 2003 but has yet to be re-developed.
The figures included 20 deliberate fires, two accidental fires and 38 false alarms – adding up to a combined 43 hours.
Scottish Fire and Rescue area manager Gordon Pryde recently told Angus councillors of the long-term challenges posed by Strathmartine and said a range of initiatives are planned for the months ahead aimed at reducing deliberate fires there.
Those will include the pilot of a youth mentoring programme at Arbroath Fire Station using the collective resources of the Carnoustie/Monifieth/Sidlaw Locality Partnership to tackle fireraising and other anti-social behaviour at the site.