MORE THAN 700 grass fires were reported in Gwent during the summer as incidents across south Wales rose by 302 per cent.

Figures from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service reveal that there were 1,549 grass fires across the south Wales area as a whole between May and July – four times the 385 reported in 2017.

A total of 714 of those – 46 per cent of the total incidents reported – happened in Gwent authorities.

Crews were called to deal with several deliberate fires on Twmbarlwm mountain from July 15, causing tens of thousands of pounds of damage to 250 hectares of forestry land according to Natural Resources Wales.

The 291 fires in Caerphilly county borough counted for 18.8 per cent of all fires, the second highest percentage behind Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Torfaen saw the greatest percentage increase in grass fires across all 10 regional authorities, with the number rising from nine during the summer of 2017 to 66 – a 633 per cent spike.

Elsewhere there were 197 grass fires in Blaenau Gwent, 118 in Newport and 42 in Monmouthshire.

A SWFRS report shows that crews battled more than 1,000 fires in July alone, a “significant” figure given that the number of all attended fires in 2017/18 was 5,792.

The document also says the weather also resulted in a “significantly high” number of calls received by the Joint Fire Control (JFC).

“As the weather temperatures outside increased so did the 999 calls, with fire control regularly receiving in excess of 500 calls a day,” the report continues.

“With a minimum crewing set at 10 and a maximum crewing of 15 control staff on duty during the highest demand times for 999 calls, the JFC became increasingly busy.”

The JFC processed more than 30,000 calls during the three-month period, with more than a third of these calls reporting an emergency incident that required attendance.

Nearly 16,000 calls were processed in July, with the largest volume of calls – 1,141 – being made on July 14.

The following day – the same day as the first fire on Twmbarlwm – was the next busiest day with 894 calls processed.

The report will be discussed at a SWFRS meeting at the authority’s headquarters in Llantrisant on Monday September 24.