Firefighters to go ‘undercover’ in common blaze sting

FIREFIGHTERS from across East Devon will go undercover to nab arsonists intent on starting common fires.

FIREFIGHTERS from across East Devon will go undercover to nab arsonists intent on starting common fires.

Crew members will use mountain bikes for plain clothes patrols of beauty spots and carry video cameras to record evidence.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and its partners this week launched an arson reduction scheme- named Project Hawkeye- for the Woodbury Common area.

Prevailing dry conditions and recent deliberately lit fires have seen firefighters, police, Clinton Devon Estates, Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and the RSPB vow to actively monitor commons during daytime hours and after dark to discourage would-be arsonists, and to gather evidence when necessary.

Members of the public have been urged to keep a vigilant eye for suspicious activity and to report any fire as soon as possible.

Two suspicious blazes at Aylesbeare Common earlier this month destroyed eight-and-a-half-acres of scrub and woodland.

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“Mountain bikes enable firefighters to cover large areas of the common very quickly and have proved to be very successful in the past,” said a fire service spokesperson.