Hill fires in Hastings 'started deliberately'

image captionDuring one fire in March about 200 people had to leave their homes

A series of recent gorse fires in East Sussex may have been started deliberately, a local council has said.

There have been 19 fires on hills above Hastings Old Town in the last six weeks, compared to three in the same period last year.

During one fire in March about 200 people were told by Sussex Police to leave their homes for several hours.

Hastings Borough councillor Murray Davidson said: "We recognise that the fires have been started deliberately."

He said that some of the recent fires had been "very, very serious" and the fire service had some difficulties accessing the East Hill through the streets of the Old Town.

"We will be looking to see if we can put in some fire breaks," he said.

"We want to make sure that fire isn't going to damage the East Hill lift."

Paul Way, from East Sussex Fire and Rescue, said the recent dry weather and the sea winds made the area more flammable.

Mr Way, the station commander of Ridge fire station in Ore, said the wooden construction of many of the buildings in the Old Town would increase the risk of any fire spreading.

"There's always potential with any fire that lives could be at risk," he added.

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