Fire service warns public of serious threat of wildfires

Fire service warns public of serious threat of wildfires

Members of the public are being urged to help prevent wildfires.
29 May 2020

Members of the public are being urged to help reduce the risk of wildfires as firefighters warn continuous warm weather has significantly raised the threat of wildfires in countryside and woodland areas.

Following a sustained period of dry weather many forests and woodlands across the county are already on high alert for the risk of fire. Unfortunately, this risk is heightened by the number of people choosing to have BBQs and light bonfires in the countryside. 

In the month of May alone HFRS and IWFRS responded to nearly 300 wildfires (fires in the open).

Even after several warnings issued by Forestry England and the emergency Services, Forestry England has reported a notable increase in the number of people using BBQs or lighting campfires, despite these currently being banned anywhere on its land in the New Forest. Their staff have been busy patrolling to advise the public of the risk of wildfires and ensuring any BBQs are safely extinguished. 

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager for Community Safety Support Gina Gray said:

“We urge the public to play their part in helping us to prevent devastating wildfires.  We want to avoid incidents of this kind at all costs, to protect our community, precious nature sites and wildlife. 

If everybody follows the guidance and helps us limit the risk of wildfires, our firefighters can spend their valuable time, supporting our community as well as other emergency services during this challenging time.”

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Wildfire Tactical Advisor Dean Hodges said:

“The recent spate of dry weather has led to a higher risk of wildfires that’s not often experienced in the UK, so it’s vital for everybody to stay alert and report any incidents as soon as possible.

We urge members of our community to avoid using barbecues and lighting fires of any kind and always ensure cigarettes are safely extinguished. 

If you see a fire, get to a place of safety and call 999 immediately so we can put it out before it does significant damage to the countryside we all enjoy.”

Bruce Rothnie, New Forest Deputy Surveyor, Forestry England said: 

“To understand how real the risk of wildfire is we only have to look at the recent incident at nearby Wareham Forest. Here a wildfire, likely to have been started by disposable BBQs, has been burning for almost two weeks and destroyed 220 hectares of Forest.  That’s the equivalent of 310 football pitches, all destroyed in a matter of days by carelessness and taking decades to recover. 

Preventing fires from starting in precious outdoor spaces like the New Forest requires everyone to play their part, I would like to remind anyone coming to the New Forest that BBQs or fires are strictly not allowed anywhere on the Forest at this time.” 

More information on preventing the risk of wildfires can be found on our website .

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At the scene of a woodlands fire in Chilworth