This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation
22 November 2007, 08:59 GMT
The Cleveland Fire Brigade arson task force said it was a trend which had been developing over the past year.
Most wheelie bins are made from high density polyethylene which releases potentially deadly fumes when burned.
Inhaling the fumes can starve the brain of oxygen. The fires can also spread out of control.
Ed Parish from the brigade's arson task force, said: "Young people are trying to get a buzz or fix but they must realise that there are a number of carcinogenic substances they are breathing in, which can have deadly effects.
"The fumes give a head-achey short high, but they can actually kill you."
He expressed concern that fires could spread and put householders at risk, and added that he would like to see bins replaced one made from a flame-retardant plastic, or a return to metal bins.
Youngsters were also reminded that it was illegal to set fire to wheelie bins.
"We are on to this. There are a lot of CCTV cameras, both static and mobile, and we will catch and prosecute you.
"But in the meantime you are putting your own and other people's lives and risk, so you should stop."