A severe lack of rain for April and the resulting extremely dry heathland across Purbeck, has led to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service placing the county under an Amber wildfire alert for a second time this month.
An Amber alert means that if a wildfire happens, it could spread quickly as a result of dry and windy conditions, so residents and visitors are being asked not to light bonfires or use disposable barbecues.
A sign in Studland warning that it’s a high fire risk area
No rain in sight for the area
With no rain in sight for the area, the Amber warning is likely to stay in force into next week and follows a previous warning on Easter Monday 5th April 2021.
According to the Met Office, up to and including Tuesday 20th April 2021, the UK as a whole had only recorded 18 percent of its average April rainfall, in what is typically a month known for its showers.
The weather forecast for Swanage suggests that we are set to experience sunny and dry weather for the next few days, with it currently predicting less than a five percent chance of rainfall until Tuesday 27th April 2021.
The devastating fire in Wareham Forest in 2020
Be aware of fire risks
The fire service warns that any major fires can take a great deal of time and resources to bring under control, such as last year’s devastating Wareham Forest fire.
Group manager Jason Moncrieff 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.”
A disposable barbecue will easily burn grass
Fire safety advice
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service offers the following advice to help stem the risk of wildfires:
- Don’t have barbecues or campfires on the heathland or open spaces, as there is a fire risk under the current conditions
- Dispose of cigarettes responsibly – don’t throw them on the ground or out of car windows
- Anyone who sees a fire should call the emergency services immediately on 999.
Landowners and managers should prepare for potential fires by ensuring that fire breaks are properly cut and maintained and that cut grass and vegetation are removed.
To find out more about how to stay safe from wildfires, visit the fire service website.