The risk of further devastating wildfires in heath and woodland across Dorset and Wiltshire has been assessed as extreme, the highest possible warning.
More than a week after firefighters started tackling a blaze affecting over 220 hectares of Wareham Forest, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued a strong warning that worse could yet happen if people ignore safety warnings.
The recent dry weather, combined with more hot days and steady winds forecast, have created a 'perfect storm' of conditions for wildfires to take hold.
Alongside this, the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions has seen an increase in people getting out into the countryside.
In light of the 'extreme' wildfire warnings in place, the Fire and Rescue Service ask that residents and visitors protect local heath and woodlands by not having any form of barbecue or outside fire whilst enjoying the countryside.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Byron Standen said: "We do understand that people want to enjoy the good weather while it lasts.But it is vital that everyone takes sensible precautions while the ground and foliage is so dry - the destruction of Wareham Forest shows what can happen."
As a Service, we cannot afford to have more incidents like Wareham Forest, which has involved firefighters from every one of our 50 fire stations. As a community, we cannot afford to lose any more of our natural habitat. We can only achieve this if everyone plays their part.
The Service will have firefighters and volunteers patrolling heathlands and open spaces over the weekend, and warning signs have been placed on key routes to remind people of the dangers