THERE was an increase in calls to potentially 'dangerous' bonfires across Merseyside yesterday, the fire service has confirmed.

Crews were called to 23, compared to 17 during the same period last year.

Of those, six were in Wirral, 10 in Liverpool, Sefton and St Helens both recorded three and one in Knowsley.

The number of deliberately-set 'anti-social behaviour fires' – which includes bonfires and those targeting wheelie bins - was 59, down by on last year. Knowsley saw the largest decrease, from nine deliberately-set fires in 2017 down to just two in 2018.

Liverpool saw the next largest reduction - from 34 down to 27.

There was, however, an increase in Sefton, from five incidents last year to 14 in 2018.

Crews also attended three incidents related to fireworks - the same number as last year.

In total, fire control received 417 emergency 999 calls on November 5 in 2018, up 39.9% on 2017’s figure of 298.

Mike Buratti, arson team manager for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: "We are pleased that the vast majority of people across Merseyside enjoyed a safe bonfire night.

"Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service received a large volume of calls, with our Control staff doing a fantastic job of handling them.

"Our arson team also spent the night in the community ensuring that members of the public were kept as safe as possible.

"On November 5, we take a tolerant view of bonfires - if they are in the open, supervised by adults and under control we do not extinguish them.

"Those we attended and put out yesterday - those included in our statistics - were all considered to be dangerous.

"Combined with two large-scale incidents, the bonfire-related activity tested the Service’s resources, though extensive advance planning and partnership work with Merseyside Police, local councils, schools and businesses in the run-up to Bonfire Night, helped reduce nuisance fires to keep people safe.

"In recent weeks, firefighters and the prevention team have been out in communities clearing away hazardous rubbish and fly-tipping, which could have been used as fuel for fires, and promoting the safe storage of wheelie bins to help prevent them becoming targets for arson.

"We are thankful to our communities for taking on board our safety messages and advice."