The number of house fires in the Borders rose by 36% from April to December last year.
In that nine-month period, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) attended 82 such blazes, compared to 60 in the corresponding period of 2014.
And in the final three months of 2015, there were 26 dwelling fires, compared to 19 in the last quarter of the previous year.
The region’s largest Scottish Borders Council ward – Galashiels and District – was responsible for most domestic fires, with 16 recorded over the nine months, up from 12, followed by East Berwickshire (13) and Hawick and Hermitage (11).
In a report prepared for tomorrow’s meeting of the council’s Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board, local senior fire officer (LSO) Alasdair Perry says 7% were started deliberately.
Councillors will hear that 80% of the accidental house fires originated from cooking and cooking appliances, that 25% involved people aged over 65 and that 50% took place in single occupancy houses.
The increase comes despite SFRS targeting a reduction in dwelling fires by 10% in its local plan for the Borders.
LSO Perry also reports that two of the brigade’s other priorities – reducing by 10% the number of fatal and non-fatal injuries and the number of deliberately-set fires – were also not met between April and December.
During that period, 15 casualties were recorded, compared to just six in the corresponding period of 2014, including one fatality in June when a 61-year-old man died while converting an unoccupied property at Nenthorn near Kelso.
And there were 89 instances of deliberate fire setting, up 11 on the same period of 2014, typically involving grassland, refuse or derelict buildings.
“Evidence shows there is a close link between deliberate secondary fires and antisocial behaviour,” admitted LSO Perry.
Again, the bulk of deliberately set fires occurred in Galashiels and District with 17, followed by Tweeddale East (16) and Tweeddale West (13).
The board will hear that the brigade responded to 1,187 incidents over the nine months, up 56 on the same reporting period of 2014, and that 52% of all calls – 617 – were the result of unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS).
The failure of alarm systems accounted for 436 of these incidents, while another 153 calls were made in good faith.