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VIDEO: Fury after yobs hurl fireworks at East Lancashire firemen
11:30am Wednesday 7th November 2012 in Blackburn
FIREFIGHTERS were ambushed by firework-throwing yobs in four separate terrifying attacks across East Lancashire.
In one incident crews said they were pelted with around 100 fireworks by youngsters as they attended an emergeny call.
Three attacks took place in Blackburn and one in Burnley and crew managers called it their ‘worst ever’ bonfire night.
Crew manager at Blackburn fire station, Dave Hilliard, described the youths as ‘absolute maniacs’.
In all of the attacks the crews had to retreat back to their fire engines. No-one was hurt.
In the first incident at 7pm, Blackburn firefighters were called to a blaze on the children's playing fields off Altom Street in the Shear Brow area.
But when they got out of the fire engine youngsters suddenly appeared and attacked the crews with rockets, bangers and Roman candles.
The officers had to retreat to their vehicle until police arrived.
Just 15 minutes later, at 7.15pm the same crew was attacked in Cedar Street, Bastwell, with bricks and fireworks.
The team was called to the street to put out a small fire. When they arrived they were again attacked, this time by a smaller group. They again had to retreat back to their vehicle.
There was then a further incident in Robinson Street at around midnight, where the crew had fireworks thrown at them as they put out a bonfire. They had bricks thrown at them as they were leaving.
Mr Hilliard said: “The first incident saw us called to a bonfire off Altom Street and when we arrived there was no-one there.
“We started to put it out and all of a sudden a large group of teenagers appeared and started throwing fireworks.
“The group of youths lined up and threw rockets, roman candles and bangers at us. It was the worst I had ever seen it.
“The police turned up and one of the officers was diving for cover. They had to phone for reinforcements. The kids eventually ran away when the police moved towards them."
He said: “It was an absolute disgrace. This has been the worst year so far for bonfire night attacks. We are always in real danger and putting our lives at risk but it seems to be getting worse.
“They are drawing us in and ambushing us.
“This just shouldn’t be happening. They need to have a bit of respect.”
Coun Shaukat Hussain said that he will be looking into the attacks to find out who is responsible.
He said: “This shouldn’t be happening because youths should be going to organised bonfires to start with. It’s just terrible that these false calls are stopping them and wasting valuable time and resources. I will be trying my hardest to find out who is responsible within the community. I am glad to hear that nobody was hurt.”
Shear Brow councillor Shahabuddin Solkar said: “This kind of behaviour is unacceptable. It is awful to think that they could do this kind of thing.”
In total, Blackburn were called to around 45 incidents of out of control fires on Bonfire Night.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue said this was a reduction on the previous year, when Bonfire Night was on a Sunday.
Crews from Accrington were called out six times but were on stand-by for Blackburn fire station because of the attacks.
Cedar Street resident Amna Haleem, 36, said that bonfire night brings out the worst in teenagers.
She said: “Teens think it’s funny to do something terrible like this and it’s much worse around this time of year. I think that the police should work harder to catch them."
Chandon Bethla, 24, is a student student at Blackburn College and has recently moved into the area from India, he said: “I am shocked that these children can get hold of fireworks in the first place, it’s just terrible news.”
Burnley fire crews were targeted by youths in Hurtley Street at about 7.30pm.
They attended reports that there were two seperate blazes when they had fireworks thrown at them.
Daneshouse with Stoneyholme Councillor Saaed Chaudhary said parents needed to know what their children were up to at this time of year.
He said: “The fire service are doing a good job. There is no doubt that this sort of attack is very dangerous.
“I would encourage parents of those involved to be aware of what their children are doing. It is their responsibility to know what they are involved in.”
• ON October 24 firefighters were pelted with stones as they attended a bonfire in the Roe Lee area of Blackburn.
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