A FAMILY had to be rescued from their home after it was set alight during a spate of arson attacks on wheelie bins.
Police have now launched an appeal for information and are urging residents to stay vigilant after a series of fires were started in the Birch Green area.
Over the past three weeks there have been eleven reported arsons where wheelie bins were set on fire in areas around Birch Green including Alderley, Beech Trees, Acre Gate, Birkrig, Banks Barn and Firbeck.
On Tuesday November 6, firefighters putting out fires on two torched cars were called to a nearby home where a wheelie bin had been deliberately set alight and pushed up against the front door of a house.
Lancashire fire and rescue service watch manager Phil Garside told how a quick-thinking neighbour had alerted the four people inside and they got out to safety – but warned “if it wasn’t for that good Samaritan someone could have been killed”.
He added: “Extra police patrols, a prevention campaign involving fire crews, fire safety support staff and our local authority partners are all part of our strategy to combat this threat.
‘‘Together with police and West Lancashire council we are determined to put a stop to this potentially lethal behaviour and bring those who have committed these crimes to account.”
Sgt Lynette Kelly of Skelmersdale Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “People need to understand how dangerous this is – there have already been two occasions where fires started in bins have spread to properties and people have had to be rescued from inside.
‘‘It is only a matter of time before this sort of mindless behaviour takes a life and we want to put a stop to this before that happens. Not only would I urge people to come forward if they have any information that they think might help, but I would also ask people to make sure loose bins are secured where possible and if you have a bin store, make sure this is locked.”
Earlier this year Birch Green was the target of a similar arson when wheelie bins outside homes were set alight on New Year’s Day.
A bin outside the front door of a Firbeck home was torched and the smoke alarm triggered, with the family escaping through a window at the back of the house. Five other wheelie bins had also been set alight on the estate earlier that morning.
Anyone with information about any of the attacks can call Lancashire Police on 101, contact Sgt Kelly on 01695 566059, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.