Amber wildfire alert in place over Bank Holiday weekend

By Ben Fitzgerald - 21 May 2020

Community

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) would like to remind the public to stay vigilant after receiving another AMBER wildfire alert, which is set to be in place over the Bank Holiday weekend.

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

At the height of the response, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service had 25 fire appliances in attendance, additional 4x4 vehicles and around 150 firefighters at the scene. In addition, specialist high volume pumps, a high-volume pump tactical adviser and three wildfire tactical advisers were also in attendance. Whilst the fire is now under control, there are still over 50 firefighters on scene as multiple hotspots remain, spread over a vast area (188 hectares). 

Following a fire investigation, which has been ongoing since Monday, DWFRS now believe the cause of Wareham Forest fire to be accidental, due to social activity in the forest. The exact cause cannot be pinpointed, but there is evidence of multiple disposable barbecues and campfires. 

Area Manager Craig Baker said: “In light of the devastation at Wareham Forest and the AMBER wildfire alert, 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. 

Whilst we understand that the dry weather will leave many wanting to go out and enjoy it, we cannot stress the importance of being fire-aware enough. This incident is a prime example of how a moment of carelessness can escalate, and the destruction it can cause. Please follow these few steps so we can avoid another wildfire in our beautiful countryside.”

Staying Safe Do’s & Don’ts:

  • Don’t have BBQs or campfires on the heath or in open spaces, the risk of a fire starting is too great in the current conditions.
  • Extinguish cigarettes properly, don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home. 
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service and provide as much detail as possible about location and access. Early detection can prevent it from developing into a large wildfire incident.

When calling the Fire and Rescue Service: 

  • Get to a safe place, 
  • note the fire location, 
  • call 999, 
  • meet the Fire and Rescue Service at the entrance. 
  • Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible. 

Landowners and Land Managers are also advised, where possible, to be prepared for fires and ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site. 

More information on staying safe and enjoying outside areas whilst avoiding starting a wildfire can be found here – http://www.dwfire.org.uk/heath-fires-and-countryside-safety

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