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CLA South East is calling on the public to take extra care in the countryside due to the increased fire risk as warm, dry, and settled conditions have elevated wildfire conditions.

There have been reports of incidents already, and forecasters say temperatures across much of the region will reach the mid-20s by the weekend.

Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and also pose a risk to the lives of people living and working in rural and adjacent communities.

UK’s biggest wildfire on record

In recent days crews have tackled a large wildfire on the Hampshire-Surrey border, affecting 30 acres of land at Frensham Common. Meanwhile a blaze near Cannich in Scotland last week could be the UK’s biggest wildfire on record, burning through 80 sq km of scrub and woodland.

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.

Some CLA members have highlighted the increased fire risk associated with disposable barbeques that are used in the countryside, urging the visiting public not to barbeque in rural areas. Barbeques should only take place in sheltered areas well away from combustible material, and properly extinguished afterwards.

The CLA has also long called for the ban on sky lanterns as these pose a serious risk of fire, especially in the countryside. At present the Government is unwilling to introduce a ban as they do not consider the dangers significant enough, despite animal deaths and fires as a result of sky lanterns.

What to do if you are aware of a fire:

  • Do not try and tackle the fire yourself.
  • Call 999 and request the fire service.
  • Give an accurate location of the fire e.g. Name of the nearest road, access points, visible land marks (pubs, farms, power lines etc), locally known names, and map grid references.
  • Move to a safe area and contact the local land manager if possible.
  • If the fire is in a remote area, please meet emergency services at the access point so that you can guide them to the location.

What not to do:

  • Don’t discard cigarettes.
  • Don’t have BBQs in unauthorised areas.
  • Never leave a BBQ unattended.
  • Don’t discard rubbish – particularly reflective materials.
  • Don’t burn off garden rubbish during hot periods or if you live close to woodland.
  • Don’t have bonfires on hot days or during prolonged periods of dry weather.

CLA South East represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.

Regional Director Tim Bamford said: “Fires have significant impacts, both on communities as well as scarring the landscape and destroying wildlife, and we appeal to the public to be extra vigilant when out and about in the countryside.

“Enjoy rural areas but please take litter home, use common sense and keep an eye out.”

By Ed

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