Youth questioned after Blaenau mountain fire

A teenager is being questioned on suspicion of starting a big mountain fire in Blaenau Ffestiniog deliberately.

Around twenty homes had to be evacuated near Llechwedd at the height of the gorse fire during the early hours of Tuesday (23rd April).

Up to thirty firefighters tackled the blaze, which broke out at just before 8.25pm on Easter Monday – it took around 24 hours to extinguish.

Police are treating the fire as ”a deliberate and criminal act” – a 16 year-old youth was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of arson, assaulting a police officer and causing a public nuisance.

Another man was arrested for obstruction. Both suspects are being held at Caernarfon police station.

Inspector Matt Geddes from North Wales Police said: ”The fire is being investigated as a deliberate and criminal act which put a number of family homes and businesses at risk, and caused the evacuation of tens of properties.”

”We are appealing for witnesses to come forward and notify the police of any information they have in respect of this incident, in order that those responsible can be brought to justice, and most importantly any further incidents that pose such a risk to the community can be prevented.”

Fire crews across North Wales have had to deal with over 20 incidents involving grass, gorse and bracken fires in the past week – including forest fires in Betws-y-Coed and on the mountainside at Beddgelert.

Gavin Roberts, a senior officer with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, added: ”Deliberate grass fires put lives in danger – this incident tied up valuable resources for a considerable length of time, putting not only our firefighters but also local residents at risk.”

”It will take the fire and rescue service longer to respond to life risk emergencies like house fires, or road traffic collisions if they are already tied up tackling a deliberately set grass fire. Deliberate grass fires can severely damage our countryside and our environment, destroy wildlife and livestock and cost the Welsh economy millions of pounds each year.”

”We are working closely with our police colleagues to catch those who deliberately set fires and will support prosecutions.”

Anyone with information about the fire is urged to contact the policing team in Gwynedd South on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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