Firefighters in Cambridgeshire recorded a small decrease in the number of house fires they attended last year, according to new figures.

Although statistics from the Home Office, released last week, showed a small increase in house fires, this is believed to be an administrative error.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service recorded 305 house fires in 2016 and in 2017 the figure was 291. A fire service spokesman said: "We have seen a decrease of around five per cent of fires happening in homes. Although the figures are heading in the right direction, we are still working on reducing these numbers further. Residents are urged to ensure they have working smoke alarms fitted on each floor of their property and to test them regularly.

"We would also encourage people to check the alarms in their relative's homes, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable in another way, such as having a disability that would prevent them from escaping if there was a fire.

"We offer Safe and Well visits to those who are most vulnerable in our communities."

Across England, 346 people lost their lives in fires between October 2016 and September 2017, including 47 in fires started deliberately. The Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington in June 2017, which claimed 71 lives, meant the figure was the highest for any 12-month period since the data was first recorded in 2009.

There were more than 30,000 house fires across the country over the year, more than 3,000 of which were started deliberately.

Dave Green, national officer at the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Starting fires deliberately in the home is a heinous crime. Rightfully, it is a serious criminal offence punishable by law. Arsonists do not just put the immediate victims at risk; they put whole communities and firefighters themselves in jeopardy.

"The fire and rescue service is already stretched to the limit in the fire cover they can provide. If fire-fighters are dealing with an arson at the same time as another fire call comes in, then those other victims are looking at a long wait before we can get to them."

INFO: You can find out if you or a family member or friend are likely to be eligible for a free home fire safety check by completing a short questionnaire online at: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk.