Wildfires from heatwave warning

  Wildfires from heatwave warning

2 July 2009

published by news.bbc.co.uk

United Kingdom — There is an increased risk of wildfires following the recent spell of warm weather, councils are warning.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is warning that the latest heatwave could cause fields and grassy areas to dry out and become a serious fire risk.

Councillor Paul Bettison said the warm weather meant “fields and parks are going to become drier, turning into tinder boxes waiting to catch fire”.

The LGA is also advising people to throw away litter responsibly.

Fire crews attended 100,000 more outdoor fires in 2003 when temperatures hit a record-breaking 38C (100F) than in the previous year.

The LGA is warning that fires started in parks in urban areas by people dropping cigarettes could spread quickly to neighbouring gardens.

In remote areas, fields, moors and fells are more likely to catch fire naturally and burn out of control, it says.

The LGA also says loose rubbish not disposed of properly acts as a fuel for fire, especially on grass verges near roads. It also says glass bottles can act like a magnifying glass, sparking a fire.

It advises people not to throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows and gather up garden waste such as dead leaves, dry grass and branches regularly.

The public are also advised not to start bonfires in windy conditions and to remain vigilant when out in the countryside, informing the fire brigade immediately about any signs of a fire.

Mr Bettison, who is chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board, said fires could destroy local parks and beauty spots, as well as putting homes at risk.

He added: “Drier conditions mean that when fires do start, they are going to be more dangerous and difficult to put out.

“People need to be alert to the increased risks and what they can do to prevent a fire from starting.

“Especially in the summer, outdoor fires can wipe out acres of countryside and important wildlife habitats. They also tie up firefighters’ time that could be spent saving lives elsewhere.

“If people adopt a common sense approach, the risks can be reduced and everyone can enjoy the beautiful weather.”

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