Red fire severity alert issued for Dorset and Wiltshire

A red fire severity alert has been issued for Dorset and Wiltshire over the coming days, following the amber weather warning for extreme heat from the Met Office.

The alert means if a wildfire breaks out, it could spread quickly and easily because of the dry conditions.

Fire crews say the risk is greatest on large areas of open land, such as heathlands, fields and even cliffsides.

The service says there has been an unprecedented increase in fires in the open in August.

From 1 - 10 August 2022, DWFRS attended 180 fires in the open - that's an increase of over 429% compared with the same period last year.

People are being asked not to have barbecues or bonfires during the hot spell.

Group Manager Stuart Gillion said: “After months of warm and dry weather, our countryside areas are tinder dry. This not only increases the risk of fires spreading quickly but also increases the risk of ignition.

"We are urging local farmers to take extra care, as sparks from hot machinery can easily lead to a field catching fire, and we ask everyone enjoying our beautiful countryside and coastline to take extra care and be vigilant with anything that could lead to a fire starting.”

People are also reminded to make sure cigarette ends aren't thrown on the ground or out of car windows.

Anyone who sees a fire in the countryside, is urged to call 999 and not attempt to tackle a fire that can’t be put out with a bucket of water, and leave the area as quickly as possible.

GM Gillion added: “Dealing with wildfires is incredibly resource-intensive, and some can take days, and even weeks, to bring under control.

"Alongside the devastating impact on the countryside, such fires are also very costly, and yet they can be prevented if people heed the warnings and take care.

"We can all play a part in keeping Dorset and Wiltshire safe from fire.”