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Fury as yobs stone Blackburn fire crew on bonfire call
11:00am Thursday 25th October 2012 in News
YOBS who stoned a 999 crew on a bonfire call-out have been branded ‘disgusting’.
Firefighters and residents condemned the hooligans who bombarded the crew in Roe Lee, Blackburn.
Some people said anti-social behaviour in the area had become such an issue it was now ‘like living in the Bronx’.
Fire chiefs said they would now be mobilising CCTV vans in some areas on the approach to Bonfire Night.
The attack came as 25 firefighters from the town’s fire station, Darwen and Hyndburn battled to bring a mill fire in Shear Brow under control.
The crew had been called to the small bonfire in Cornelian Street, which is thought to have been started deliberately to lure them to the scene.
Hyndburn Station manager Tim Murrell said a gang of around 12 youths, aged 12 to 15, started throwing stones at their fire engine, narrowly missing the window as they were preparing to leave.
He said: “The crew had talked with youths in the area and they seemed quite chatty and friendly.
"When they got back on the fire engine, they had a large stone thrown at them.
"One stone which hit the engine wasn't far from the window so it could have gone through and hurt the firefighters inside.
""We aren't sure how many stones were thrown as they got out of there.
"Obviously we take attacks on firefighters extremely serious. Any attacks on firefighters endangers the public. If firefighters can't respond, we can't save lives. We can't afford to be in two places at once."
Police were called but the youths had left the scene when they arrived.
The incident came as figures showed there have been 47 attacks on East Lancashire crews and 93 across the county in the past three years.
Mr Murrell said there was often an increase in incidents in the run up to Bonfire night and CCTV vans would now be sent to at risk areas to catch culprits.
He said: "Incidents tend to bubble up getting nearer to Bonfire Night.
"We have been lured into other areas before.
"For some reason, people throw rocks, stones, whatever they can find. They have fired fireworks at us in the past..
"We will be mobilising the community safety partnership CCTV van to areas at most risk in the run up to Bonfire Night."
Sharon Ashby, 45, who lives in nearby Peridot Close, Blackburn said: “For kids to target the emergency services like that it is absolutely disgusting. The kids are running this estate and it is getting worse. It’s honestly like living in the Bronx.
“I don’t leave the house at night because of it.
“The gang, is made up of children aged between nine and 19. They gather on the play area every evening leaving most other children too scared to use the park. It’s not right.
“The parents should do more to make sure they know where their kids are and what they are doing.”
Fellow resident Eleanor Oldfield, 81, of nearby Amber Avenue, said: “That behaviour is disgusting and completely unnecessary. There is a real issue with children around here.
“There is always big groups of youths on the play area until late in the evening and some are only about seven or eight-years-old.”
Zeeshan Ashraf, 35, of Cornelian Street, said the estate’s problems were predominantly caused by a derelict nursing home, the former Gables Home for the Elderly, in the street.
He said: “It is clear to see this building has no good use. Kids gather around here setting fires, breaking windows and stealing wood for bonfires. I think that is what happened this time.
“More should be done to prevent teenagers causing damage like this. Maybe morals need instilling at home by the parents.”
Kevin Deacon, chairman of the Lancashire Fire Brigade Union, which represents 800 firefighters, condemned the youths.
He said: "They just think it's fun with no serious consequences.
"Not only are they putting lives of crews at risk, they are putting their families at risk by not having cover.
"And if a firefighter loses an eye or gets seriously injured and have to stop working, it could impact on their family.”