DEVASTATING fires caused yet more damage in Barnsley last week - prompting local residents to put blazes out themselves before over-stretched fire services could arrive.

A number of fires - thought to have been started deliberately - were started on an area of woodland behind Netherwood Academy last week.

Due to the heat and dry ground, fire spread quickly and left residents worried they may reach houses nearby - potentially causing familiar scenes to those on Woodland Drive, near Kingstone, last month.

Vikki Needham, 46, told the Chronicle her husband Darren helped other residents to stop the blazes from spreading even further - and believes the uncut grass is partially to blame.

“We have been talking and if the grass was cut on a more regular basis then this wouldn’t happen and the fires wouldn’t spread so quickly.

“I used to use that field a lot for dog walking but it’s not the same anymore.

“There’s been three fires on there now recently - it could have been a lot more serious.”

Darren was one of the first on the scene at the two fires - started on Friday and Sunday - and used snow shovels to put out the blazes.

Darren told the Chronicle: “While on my home from work on Friday I was flagged down by two teenage girls who informed me there was a fire behind the houses on Netherwood Road.

“I had just passed a fire engine on Bradbury Balk Lane so I turned round to let them know.

“They told me they were already dealing with an incident and that they would call it through to the station and get someone to attend.

“I returned back to the fire where I saw an elderly gentleman trying to put the fire out using buckets of water.

“I asked if he has anything we could use to beat the fire out with and he brought out snow shovels so we used them.

“He informed me there were two other fires further up the field but we concentrated on the one closer to the houses as it was advancing quickly.

“After about an hour all three were out just as the fire brigade arrived.

“They dampened everything down to make sure that the fires were completely out.”

Just two days later and another fire started on the same patch of land - though it’s not known if this was deliberate.

Darren said it would be logical to have the grass cut on a more regular basis to prevent blazes starting once again.

“I pulled up and went to help but this fire was much closer to the houses and was larger and spreading faster,” he added.

“Another resident was strimming around the perimeter of the fire to make a fire break while we were beating the fire out with our snow shovels.

“After a while we managed to turn the fire away from the properties but it carried going on further up the field.

“After around 30 minutes the fire brigade arrived and put the fire out.

“The residents were very lucky as I believe that the fire could have spread into these properties and cause damage to their homes.

“We think that one of the main factors of why the fires took hold so quickly was because the grass was so long due to the fact that it hadn’t been cut as often as it used to be by the council.

“After the first fire the residents contacted the council and asked for the grass to be cut due to the danger to their properties if it was to catch fire again.

“Only to be told that it wasn’t down to be cut until the end of September.

“Surely it would be more cost effective to cut the long grass as a precaution than to waste the time and resources of the fire brigade?”