Deliberate fire-raising across Levenmouth has risen to its highest rate, shocking new figures have revealed.
Vandals started more than four blazes every week of 2017/18, adding up to 207 in total – up from 143 the previous year and 130 in 2015/16.
Firefighters have branded Buckhaven, Methil and the Wemyss Villages as by far the most problematic area of Fife, followed closely by Leven, Kennoway and Largo.
Councillors described the trend as very worrying.
Loose rubbish accounts for most of the call-outs to the fire service but wheelie bins have become increasingly popular among young fire-raisers.
Methil station manager Steven Michie said there was a huge amount of work ongoing to reduce the blazes and cut the risk to those setting them and the wider public.
“Rest assured we’re working with the police and community safety officers, along with education services, to put plans in place to focus on this activity,” he said.
The number of deliberate fires have continued to rise in the area since a forum to specifically tackle the problem was formed in November but Mr Michie said they were now increasing at a slower rate.
“Although it has increased again, the early work we’ve done has made an impact,” he said.
Since spring, firefighters have visited every school in Levenmouth to hammer home the dangers and plans are afoot to incorporate lessons on fire safety into the Levenmouth Academy curriculum.
Patrols have been stepped up at identified hot spot areas and, following a spate of wheelie bin fires at Letham Glen in Leven, 245 neighbouring houses were visited.
“We knocked on doors and engaged with every single householder,” said Mr Michie.
“We gave out leaflets asking people to report any fly-tipped waste and we have finance for wheelie bin locks to make it more difficult for young people to take them away.”
He said wheelie bin fires in the glen had as good as ceased following the action but warned the wider problem would not be solved overnight.
Labour councillor David Graham said: “The increase in deliberate fires is a very worrying trend.
“It’s the worst area in Fife and I’m glad processes are in place to tackle it.”