MOST fires in West Yorkshire are started deliberately, shocking figures have revealed.
A West Yorkshire Fire Service report said that a massive 82% of all fires in the county between April, 2003, and the end of June this year were caused by arsonists.
But even though the percentage of deliberate fires is high, West Yorkshire is meeting Government targets for preventing such incidents.
Every week in the United Kingdom there are 3,600 arson attacks, 60 injuries and two deaths - at a cost of £40m.
West Yorkshire's head fire safety officer, David Wilkinson, said the figures represented a national trend for high levels of arson.
He said: "There are buildings like schools which are especially vulnerable to arson attacks. We are targeting this by going into schools and meeting young people.
"It is about education and drumming it into people that they are putting lives at risk by committing arson attacks - that they face lengthy spells in prison if they are caught.
"For some reason - whether it is an increase in cars being torched or vandalism - arson has gone up."
The fire service report, which breaks down types of fires, injuries and deaths, was presented to the West Yorkshire Fire Authority yesterday.
Mr Wilkinson is pleased with the overall performance and thinks the extra resources being put into fire prevention are paying off.
"Overall, the figures are good. There is a general trend in West Yorkshire that we are meeting targets and moving forward. This is because we are working hard - but there is lots more to do and to improve.
"We are reasonably happy with the way things are going, but the arson figures are worrying. However, this problem is seen across the nation.
"That does not mean we are not committed to improving standards," said Mr Wilkinson.
Nationally, the problem is being tackled by a Government body, the Arson Control Forum.
The Government has pledged to buck the upward trend in arson attacks by March, 2007. And in the three years after 2007 ministers have proposed to reduce arson by 10%.
Already, £2.25m has seen pumped into local schemes to reduce the figure and Mr Wilkinson believes this is the way to beat arson.
FIRES in West Yorkshire from April, 2003, to June, 2004:
* Homes, 326; 91 were arson
* Commercial buildings, 12; six were arson
* Schools, 14; 12 were arson
* Sheltered housing, 178; 44 were arson
* Cars, 1,003; 870 were arson
* Deaths from fire, seven; four resulted from arson attacks.