More than 15 per cent of South Yorkshire house fires started deliberately

More than 15 per cent of South Yorkshire house fires last year were started deliberately, figures from the Home Office have shown.

The numbers reveal the scale of the problem faced by the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, who tackled 127 cases of arson in the 2017-18 financial year - 17 per cent of all the house fires in the area.

Across England and Wales, one in 10 house fires were started deliberately last year. Since 2013, eight people have been killed in arson attacks. In total, 39 people lost their lives in incidents attended by fire services over the last five years, five in the last year alone. There were 176 casualties last year, including 86 people who were taken to hospital as a result of their injuries.

Dave Green, national officer at the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Starting fires deliberately in the home is a heinous crime. Rightfully, it is a serious criminal offence punishable by law. Arsonists do not just put the immediate victims at risk; they put whole communities and firefighters themselves in jeopardy.

"The fire and rescue service is already stretched to the limit in the fire cover they can provide. If firefighters are dealing with an arson at the same time as another fire call comes in, then those other victims are looking at a long wait before we can get to them."

Across England, 263 people lost their lives in fires in 2017-18, including 20 in deliberately started fires. The Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington in June 2017, which claimed 72 lives, meant the figure was the highest for any year since 2007-08.

There were more than 30,000 house fires across the country over the year, over 3,200 of which were started deliberately.