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Amber wildfire alert in place for the weekend

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) would like to remind the public to stay vigilant as the South of England is set to experience an Amber wildfire risk over the weekend.

This alert means that, should a wildfire be experienced, it could spread quickly and easily due to the dry and windy conditions. As seen with the major incident in Wareham Forest earlier in the year, wildfires take a great deal of resources and time to bring under control.

With the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, there will undoubtedly be an increase in the number of people getting out into the countryside to enjoy the hot days ahead. DWFRS are issuing a strong warning to the public that worse could yet happen if people ignore the safety warnings.

Group Manager Karen Adams said: “The devastation caused by Wareham Forest highlights just how easily a moment of carelessness can escalate. The cost of these types of fires to the countryside, the Service, and the public themselves is not something that should be taken lightly.”

She added: “As such, we are asking for the public’s help in ensuring our resources can be used for the vital support of communities by not having campfires or using disposable barbecues in our forests and heathlands. Of course we understand people wanting to get out and enjoy the summer, but as a community, we cannot afford to lose any more of our natural habitat. We can only achieve this if everyone plays their part and take sensible precautions following the wildfire alert.”

Wildfires can start due to a number of reasons, including:

• Deliberate fire setting

• Littering of items such as disposable barbecues and cigarettes

• Campfires and bonfires either being left unattended or getting out of control

• Sparks from machinery and vehicles

• Cars being parked on verges and the heat from their catalytic converters igniting the grass

Anyone living near heath or woodland in Dorset can help protect their homes by being part of the Firewise programme. For more information, visit www.dwfire.org.uk/firewise

If you have concerns about young people setting fires deliberately, the Fire and Rescue Service has a referral scheme called Firesetters to tackle such behaviours. For more information, visit www.dwfire.org.uk/firesetters

There is also information online aimed at very young children, so they understand the implications of heath fires – visit www.dwfire.org.uk/sam‘s-sad-day

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