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Deliberate secondary fires in the Hamilton area increased by nearly a quarter last year.

The “disappointing rise” was the only “area of increase” according to station commander Alistair Stewart who outlined statistics for 2020-21 to the Hamilton area committee on Tuesday.

Across the region, there were 424 deliberate secondary fires last year, which is an increase of 23 per cent on 2019-20.

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Secondary fires – such as bin and grass fires – are classed as less serious than primary fires and are generally as a result of anti-social behaviour.

Primary fires are fires which involve a monetary loss such as a vehicle or a property fire.

An increase in deliberate secondary fires is often attributed to bonfire season however that wasn’t the case last year.

Mr Stewart told the committee: “This is the only area of increase throughout all the key performance indicators.

“Predominantly, it is refuse fires that cause the issue and caused the increase.

“What we did identify was that under normal circumstances bonfire season would generally see an increase.

“This year, under closer scrutiny, bonfire season was one of the quietest we’ve had in quite a few years.

“If it’s not the fireworks and the bonfires, where is the increase?

“The Larkhall area is the area we’ve had the largest increase, that was 30 per cent on the previous year.”

With coronavirus restrictions in place, the fire service have been unable to visit schools to carry out their regular engagement activity with young people but Mr Stewart did not say if this was to blame for the increase.

Deliberate primary fires were down by 10 per cent on 2019-20 to 55 last year while accidental house fires fell by five per cent to 77.

Accidental other building fires fell by seven to 15 last year and the number of road traffic collisions attended by the fire service dropped to 20 – down 56 per cent.

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Mr Stewart added: “I believe that the performance within the Hamilton area has been excellent over the last 12 months.

“It’s all very positive as far as I am concerned.”

The number of people injured in fires last year fell to four – down by 17 on the previous year – however, one person died after a fire in Blantyre.

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