People urged to act responsibly in countryside after increase in heath fires

Fire crews tackling a large wildfire in Wareham forest in Dorset

Fire crews across the south are warning people to be cautious when using disposable barbecues this weekend.

Officers damping down from a large heath fire in Ringwood in Hampshire Credit: @HantsIOW_fire

It comes as more people are expected to be making the most of the weather as lockdown eases. A number of fires have been caused by BBQs which got out of control in areas of heath land. 

Hampshire Fire and Rescue say fires on any heathland, particularly the New Forest, can pose a serious threat to lives and property, so people need to understand the danger and help prevent a disastrous incident.

Officers are reminding people who are meeting friends outdoors, to act responsibly by

  • Extinguishing smoking materials properly

  • Don't use BBQ's or have open fires in the countryside.

Firefighters spent days tackling a large wildfire in Wareham forest in Dorset

What to do do if you see a fire:

  • If you do see a fire in the countryside, contact us immediately – dial 999

  • Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water

  • Give a map reference if possible, otherwise give a landmark such as a farm or pub to help locate the fire

  • Estimate the size of the area that’s burning

  • Describe the type of terrain (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland etc)

  • Evacuate the area as soon as possible