An Amber wildfire alert has been issued for the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service area, meaning that campfires and disposable barbecues should not be lit near forests and heathlands.
The alert was issued on Monday 5th April 2021 due to the recent dry conditions and stronger winds, which increase the risk of a wildfire spreading quickly and more easily.
The Wareham Forest fire in May 2020
Devastation to heath, woodland and wildlife
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service says wildfires take a great deal of resources and time to bring under control, and cause devastation to heath, woodland and wildlife.
This was dramatically highlighted by the Wareham Forest fire which started on Monday 18th May 2020, after a group of people lit disposable barbecues and a campfire in the wood.
It took over 150 firefighters, water-carrying helicopters, nine kilometers of hoses, and round the clock crewing to put the fire out. Over 220 hectares of heath and forest and its residing wildlife were destroyed. It was declared a major incident.
Dampening down of the Wareham Forest fire in 2020 took a lot of time and resources
“Asking for the public’s help by not having campfires or using disposable barbecues”
Group manager for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Tim Gray said:
“In light of the Amber wildfire alert, we are asking for the public’s help by not having campfires or using disposable barbecues in our forests and heathlands.
“Whilst we understand that the lifting of some lockdown restrictions, combined with the dry weather, will mean people will want to go out and about, we cannot stress enough the importance of being fire aware. Please follow these few steps so we can avoid another wildfire in our beautiful countryside.”
Fire crews from several counties were called to help control the Wareham Forest fire in 2020
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service fire safety advice
- Don’t have barbecues or campfires on the heath or in open spaces; the risk of a fire starting is too great in the current conditions
- Extinguish cigarettes properly, don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home
- If you see a fire in the countryside, call 999 and report it immediately to the fire and rescue service. Please provide as much detail as possible about location and access, but also make sure you are in a safe place
Landowners and land managers are also advised, where possible, to be prepared for fires and ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.
More information on staying safe and enjoying outside areas whilst avoiding starting a wildfire can be found on the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue website