A bank holiday plea for no BBQs in the Purbeck countryside

The August bank holiday weekend is traditionally a time for barbecues but Litter Free Dorset has released a video warning that barbecues burn more than bangers, following the devastating fire in Wareham Forest this year.

In the hard hitting film, Wareham Fire Station crew take a starring role to show the severe impact and damage that can be caused as a result of a heathland wildfire.


The Wareham Forest fire was started accidentally on 18th May 2020 by a campfire and disposable barbecues, resulting in the destruction of 220 hectares of woodland and heathland.

Wareham Forest fire
Wareham Fire Station
Swanage fire crew damping down the forest
Swanage Fire Station

Over 250 firefighters including the crew from Swanage

In the first two weeks, over 250 firefighters including the crew from Swanage, worked day and night to extinguish the fire and damp down any hot spots and flare ups. The cost of the operation to the fire service was an estimated half a million pounds.

To supply the quantity of water required to bring the fire under control, a river was pumped from five miles away and a helicopter previously used by South Wales Fire Rescue Services dropped water over the area in scenes more reminiscent of the Australian outback.

Helicopter at Wareham Forest Fire
DW Fire and Rescue
Fire destruction in Wareham Forest

The habitat will take decades to recover completely

Not only did the raging fire kill many rare species of plants and animals, it also disrupted local businesses surrounding Wareham Forest and polluted the air quality as far away as Southampton. Forestry England has said that the area’s habitat will take decades to recover completely.

Litter Free Dorset is a group of local organisations, charities and community groups that work together to reduce litter across Dorset and it’s running a campaign to remind holiday makers, visitors and residents alike to use and dispose of single-use disposable barbecues responsibly this summer.

Scorched heath at Wareham Forest viewed from a drone
Lawrence Shaw

“Why not pack a picnic instead?”

A spokesperson from Litter Free Dorset said:

“The message is clear and simple, stop having barbecues and campfires in the countryside, and if you want to barbecue, have it at home. If you’re out in the countryside, why not pack a picnic instead?”

Watch the video

Wareham Forest Fire – BBQ's Burn More Than Bangers!

With sunny spells forecast for Dorset this August bank holiday weekend, we thought this would be a great time for a reminder to #SpreadLoveNotWildfire and refrain from BBQing on heathland.Please watch and share our new video below, that shows why it is ILLEGAL to BBQ on heathland, and the extent of impacts and damage from heathland wildfire, with real footage from the recent Wareham Forest Fire that destroyed an area of woodland and heathland equivalent to 220 football pitches.Stay safe this bank holiday weekend, only BBQ at home, or at safe designated spots… or pack a picnic instead! #BBQsBurnMoreThanBangers

Posted by Litter Free Dorset on Friday, August 28, 2020

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.


Top stories

Most recent

Chance to come and sing in Swanage with top musicians New dates have been announced for the opportunity to tune up the vocal cords and get expert tuition from distinguished church musicians at St Mary’s Church. 20 hours ago New Salt Pig eatery in Studland replaces old Middle Beach cafe 2 days ago Power lines to be buried to restore beauty spot near Swanage 3 days ago Watch out for ‘floating terrors’ washing up on Purbeck beaches 4 days ago Swanage woman jailed for stealing cash from Dorset Police 5 days ago