FIRES claimed the lives of five people in the region over the last year, new figures show.

The latest Home Office statistics show five people died at home in incidents attended by the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, in the year to June.

But across England, 268 fatalities were recorded over the period, up from 253 the previous year.

In response, the Fire Brigades Union said that the increased showed that fire services “wholly insufficient” across the country, calling for more funding.

Matt Wrack, the union’s general secretary, said: “Firefighter numbers have been slashed over the last decade, while the country’s fire safety infrastructure has been dismantled.

“Our entire system of fire safety is wholly insufficient and for far too long politicians have treated fire safety issues with utter indifference.

“We need to completely rebuild our fire and rescue service – and the Fire Brigades Union is demanding this starts immediately.”

In October last year, young couple Tazmin Pugh and Josh Kirk died in a fire at their house in Cotheridge after an electric cable reel overheated.

READ MORE: Couple died in fire after wound-up cable reel overheated

Mr Kirk, of Worcester, was 21 and Miss Pugh, from Pershore, was 18 when they died in the fire on October 28. Miss Pugh was well known as a talented swimmer and had represented Great Britain at youth level.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the five deaths included one in Ross-on-Wye, two in Cotheridge, one in Kidderminster and one in Hereford.

Group Commander Stuart Crebbin said: "In the period from April 2017 to June 2019, there have been 11 fire deaths, five in Herefordshire and six in Worcestershire.

“Three of these tragic events were in spring or summer and eight in autumn or winter.

“Of those 11 people who died in fires, eight were over the age of 70 and this emphasises the vital nature of the free Safe and Well checks we carry out, which focus on vulnerable members of society such as the elderly, people living alone and those with reduced mobility.

“These checks include advice on fire safety in the home, falls prevention, winter warmth, social isolation and loneliness, crime prevention and smoking.

“Anyone interested in arranging a Safe and Well visit should contact our Community Risk team on 0800 032 1155.”