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203People are being encouraged to play it safe in the run-up to 5 November by reporting illegal bonfires and only attending organised displays.

Durham County Council, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and Durham Constabulary are joining forces to crack down on the dangers of illegal bonfires.

From next week, neighbourhood wardens and police officers will be carrying out extra patrols in hot spot areas looking for illegal bonfires, which will then be removed.

Police and fire officers will visit primary and secondary schools to talk about the dangers of illegal fireworks and bonfires, while information leaflets on fireworks and the law will be delivered to homes across the county.

Landlords will check yards and gardens and ensure tenants remove any piles of flammable material.

Trading Standards officers will be carrying out test purchases at shops they believe may be selling fireworks illegally, while fireworks will be confiscated from anyone under the age of 18.

The crackdown is being coordinated by the council’s safer communities team.

Members of the public can play their part by:

Reporting illegal bonfires to Durham County Council by calling 03000 260 000.

Ensuring that wheelie bins are returned to properties promptly after collection and, if possible, are placed out of sight.

Only attending organising bonfires and firework displays.

Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We want to ensure residents have a safe and enjoyable bonfire night so we’re working with our partners to do everything we can to make sure that happens.

“However, we would also encourage residents to do their bit by reporting illegal bonfires as soon as possible so that they can be removed.

“We also advise that people only attend organised bonfires and firework displays as these are a much safer option than an illegal bonfires or private displays.”

Robin Turnbull, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We want everyone to stay safe while they’re having fun. If you do decide to have your own party then carefully follow the instructions for setting off each firework and keep fireworks away from children, even sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees centigrade.”

A list of organised displays taking place across County Durham is available at www.durham.gov.uk/fireworks.

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