Over the last few weeks in July there were reports of several fires in the South East region, from more than 100 firefighters tackling an undergrowth blaze in Lydd in Kent, to a large field fire in Seer Green in Buckinghamshire. The dry conditions are likely to continue over the next two months, with the medium-range forecast predicting a prolonged spell of above-average sunshine and below-average rainfall.
As this warm weather has coincided with an increase of visitors to the countryside, with the start of school holidays, the CLA South East is calling on the public to take extra care in the countryside. Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and also pose a risk to the lives of people living and working in rural and adjacent communities.
What to do:
- Do not try and tackle the fire yourself.
- Call 999 and request the fire service.
- Give an accurate location of the fire e.g. Name of the nearest road, access points, visible land marks (pubs, farms, power lines etc), locally known names, and map grid references.
- Move to a safe area and contact the local land manager if possible.
- If the fire is in a remote area, please meet emergency services at the access point so that you can guide them to the location.
As well as encouraging people to not discard cigarettes, smoldering material or litter (as bottles and shards of glass can spark a fire), CLA members have also highlighted the increased fire risk associated with disposable barbeques that are used in the countryside, urging the visiting public not to barbeque in rural areas. Barbeques should only take place in sheltered areas well away from combustible material, and properly extinguished afterwards.
The CLA has also long called for the ban on sky lanterns as these pose a serious risk of fire, especially in the countryside. At present the government is unwilling to introduce a ban as they do not consider the dangers significant enough, despite animal deaths and fires as a result of sky lanterns.
CLA regional director Robin Edwards said: “We have witnessed the significant impacts of recent fires, both on communities as well as scarring the landscape and destroying wildlife, and we appeal to the public to be extra vigilant when out and about in the countryside.”
Picture: Fire between Alkham Valley, Dover and Hawkinge near Folkestone was attended by Kent Fire and Rescue Service in 2018 ©Kent Fire and Rescue Service