Authorities have appealed for the public to help prevent wildfires after firefighters battled almost 80 deliberate blazes in South Wales over the weekend.
South Wales Police said “many acres of wildlife and our beautiful landscape” had been lost following a rise in suspected deliberate grassfires.
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said one suspected incident saw a blaze burn just a short distance from its fire station in Abercarn, Gwent, which put essential workers and their facilities at risk, while another fire measuring over 11 hectares posed a danger to livestock and property.
The fire service said it had attended “nearly 80 deliberate grassfires from Friday to Sunday”, with the majority of them requiring the attendance of multiple appliances, use of critical equipment including a helicopter and working with police and environment agency Natural Resources Wales.
On Tuesday, firefighters spent a fourth consecutive day at Machen Mountain in Caerphilly attempting to get a blaze stretching across 50 hectares of grassland under control.
Dean Loader, head of community safety and partnerships at the fire service, said some of the blazes had been “incredibly demanding” as crews attempted to limit the impact to communities as well as the damage to the landscape and wildlife.
He added: “Diverting our resources to deal with deliberate fires will draw fundamental and valuable resources away from our communities, placing unnecessary risk to life. This needs to stop.”
Sergeant Andy Jones, from South Wales Police, said: “Sadly, over the weekend we lost many acres of our beautiful landscape to deliberate grassfires.
“Every grassfire poses a serious risk to the public and to property and the emergency services are doing everything they can to tackle this issue.
“I would like to pay tribute to our fire service colleagues who are working tirelessly to limit the damage caused.”
Sgt Jones said officers were making use of drones, CCTV equipment and bikes in order to prevent further fires, but said “the onus is upon the public”.
“My plea is for everyone to make a stand now, to prevent further damage and to avoid a potential tragedy which could be just one grassfire away,” he said.