Wildfire warning from the CLA South West

CLA south west is calling on the public to take extra care in the countryside due to the increased fire risk

CLA south west is calling on the public to take extra care in the countryside due to the increased fire risk, especially on hillsides, moors and heathland as dry and windy conditions have elevated wildfire conditions across large swathes of the country.

In addition, there will potentially be an increase of visitors to the countryside with the government’s recent easing of restrictions on people’s movements.

Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and their habitats and also pose a risk to the lives of people living and working in rural and adjacent communities. Reducing the risk of wildfires is key at this time of the year, and raising awareness is one way in which the risk can be reduced.

Wildfires can be prevented by not discarding cigarettes or other smoldering material. The same can be said for litter as quite often bottles and shards of glass can spark a fire.

There is also an increased fire risk associated with disposable barbeques that are used in the countryside. Barbeques should only take place in sheltered areas well away from combustible material, and properly extinguished afterwards, whilst heeding government guidance on social distancing and gatherings.

Large wildfires are thankfully rare. But, when they do occur, can be very serious, affecting large areas of the countryside and can cause untold damage to wildlife, destroying ecosystems in a matter of hours which have taken years to establish. We appeal to the public to be extra vigilant when visiting the countryside, do not throw lit cigarette ends out of your vehicle and if you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately. It only takes a small spark to start a fire on ground as dry as it is currently, so extra caution must be taken to help protect crops, wildlife and habitats. Prevention is better than cure, and especially now when we can ill afford to be putting undue stress on the emergency services

Ann Maidment, Director CLA South West

In case of a fire, the public is advised not to try and tackle the fire themselves, but to alert the emergency services by calling 999, stating as accurately as possible, the location of such a fire.

We would urge the public to adhere to the Countryside Code