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Arson attack on Formby Pinewoods with 21 fires lit in one day

A significant area of Formby’s pinewoods and dunes was damaged by fire yesterday, 18th April.

Twenty one fires were started by a group of 7 – 8 young men as they were chased through the woods and dunes by National Trust rangers and members of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.

The men had initially been seen lighting two large fires in the woodland by a member of the public at 4.15pm, who reported them to National Trust staff.

National Trust Ranger Rob Mathew said: "We are very grateful to the Fire Brigade for their support: with 21 fires alight we very nearly lost control, which would have resulted in massive damage to the northern end of the Formby site, not to mention the potential for injury to members of the public."

"Any arson attack is extremely serious and damage to a Triple Site of Special Scientific Interest such as Formby under the Wildlife & Countryside Act can lead to a fine of £5000."

At the request of the Fire Brigade, two Police Officers attended the scene and eventually managed to get the men involved in the car park, before allowing them to leave site. The men were monitored by National Trust Rangers as they left via Victoria Road.

Rob Mathews went on to say: "We want to work much more closely with local police to prevent this kind of incident re-occurring and we look forward to holding discussions with them to hear how they think we might tackle the problem. It is of particular concern that this arson attack was carried out by adults in broad daylight."

"The lighting of fires on the beach or in the dunes or pinewoods is prohibited for good reason as we have seen from this arson attack. We would ask all visitors to Formby to be vigilant and if they see any suspicious activity to report it to a National Trust Ranger or member of staff at our Countryside Office."

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