MOUNTED police are taking to the streets of Burnley as part of a campaign against arsonists.

The specialist officers will work closely with the new Arson Reduction Team, a partnership between police and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service launched last week.

The aim is to carry out extra high-visibility patrols to help deter arsonists and to catch those responsible.

The latest arson incident happened last night when firefighters were called to allotments in Netherwood Road at 8.10pm. They arrived to find the timber garden shed in flames. The building was destroyed.

Leading Firefighter John Chapman said: "We are treating the fire as suspicious." Police are also investigating the incident.

Speaking about the campaign, Sergeant Martin Selway said: "A lot of good work is already under way in Burnley to tackle this growing problem not only by the new arson reduction team but also by local patrol officers and our new community beat officers."

That work includes targeted patrols as well as a new poster campaign aimed at deterring fire-raisers and urging anyone who has seen anything suspicious to contact the police.

Sgt Selway added: "The mounted patrols are in addition to this and will target specific problem areas, currently Daneshouse, Stoneyholme and Burnley Wood, which are suffering from unacceptably high levels of arson.

"Our message to offenders is clear, that arson will not be tolerated and tough action will be taken against anyone deliberately starting fires."

Anyone with information about arson offences should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Last year there were 1,064 deliberately set fires in Burnley, with a direct cost to the Fire Service of £200,000.

Fires in skips and wheelie bins and rubbish fires went up by 47 per cent on the previous year and fires in private dwellings, commercial properties and in cars went up by 22 per cent.