Beware of grass fires

Beware of grass fires

27 July 2006

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MORE than 400 grass fires were put out in Waltham Forest last summer and the London Fire Brigade is sending out a warning to prevent the tally rising this year.

A number of outdoor fires are either started deliberately or through careless behaviour.

Cigarettes thrown from a car window can set fire to grass verges, and camp fires and barbecues left unattended or not properly extinguished can start a bush fire.

Bottles and broken glass can concentrate the sun’s rays on parched grass and shrubbery, starting a fire.

In the current heatwave fire crews throughout Waltham Forest hope the number of grass fires does not creep up to the 416 dealt with in 2005.

Wanstead Flats in Leytonstone and Woodford Golf Course in Chingford are highly vulnerable to grass fires and a number were reported on both sites last summer.

Pole Hill in Chingford is a hotspot for youngsters making outdoor dens, but by playing with matches and thoughtlessly discarding cigarettes they caused a number of fires in the area last summer.

A firefighter on Blue Watch at Chingford fire station said another fire was put out on Pole Hill two weeks ago and fires in that area are all the more dangerous because it is difficult to get fire engines into the area.

Steve Turek, assistant commissioner for community safety at the London Fire Brigade, said: “At this time of year, we get called to a large number of grass fires.

“These can cause a great deal of damage to open spaces and wildlife and can be avoided by making sure cigarettes and barbecues are extinguished properly and glass bottles are disposed of carefully.”

The fire brigade advises people to not attempt to put out grass fires themselves because they spread quickly and can change direction without warning.

If you see a fire call 999 immediately and, if it is safe to do so, stay around to direct firefighters to the scene.

By Megan Reynolds


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