LOCKDOWN and bored youngsters could be to blame for a big rise in the number of secondary fires in Fife.

Offences, which typically involve people deliberately setting light to rubbish, grass or derelict buildings, rocketed from 577 in 2019-20 to 826 in 2020-21.

At the environment and protective services sub committee, Scottish Fire and Rescue group commander Iain Brocklebank said: "One of the largest impacts is that of an increase in secondary fires, 15 per cent over a four year average.

"Local fire education in schools was stopped during lockdown, for obvious reasons, and that along with local youth diversion activities also affected by the pandemic, may be the reason for this increase in secondary fires.

"However, local officers continue to work with police and local authority partners to reduce incidents of this type and deliberate fire reduction plans are currently being implemented in hotspot areas of Kirkcaldy, Levenmouth, Dunfermline and Lochgelly."

The figures for 2020-21, presented to councillors last week, also showed a small rise in accidental dwelling fires, from 218 to 226, and in deliberate primary fires – those involving buildings, caravans, motor vehicles, plant and machinery, woodland and crops – from 136 to 165.

Blazes in non-domestic buildings rose from 93 to 98 and people injured in those incidents also climbed from 34 to 45.

Unwanted fire alarm signals dropped markedly, from 1,543 to 1,305, and road traffic collisions attended, which tend to be the more serious crashes, also fell from 150 to 100.

There was a corresponding reduction in the number of people injured in those collisions, from 104 to 58 and fatalities fell by one to five.