Date: 26th July, 2018
Firefighters from across Dorset & Wiltshire are reminding people to take care around heathland and open spaces during this warmer weather after an extremely busy day.
The current heatwave and drought conditions the UK is experiencing has meant a heightened risk of wildfires across Dorset & Wiltshire. Today (Thursday 26th July) crew from DWFRS have been dealing with several large heath fires. At 12.46pm this afternoon, over 50 firefighters were called to deal with a heath fire in Ashdown Road, Poole. Crews used hose reels and main lines to extinguish the fire and created a fire break in order to protect nearby buildings. The fire was surrounded by 3pm but crews have continued to return to reinspect this incident and deal with a number of hotspots.
At 6pm this evening, over 100 firefighters were called to deal with a large heath fire on Ferndown Common. This is a very large incident and fire crews have surrounded the fire and are keeping it contained overnight by dampening down the parameter. Crews will remain in attendance overnight and continue active firefighting at first light.
At 8pm this evening, a further 25 firefighters were called to another heath fire near Napier Road, Hamworthy. Firefighters have been using beaters and light portable pumps to extinguish this fire but remain in attendance dampening down hot spots (at 11.30pm).
Group Manager Dave Graham, who is currently Incident Commander at the incident in Ferndown said: “Firefighters from across Dorset & Wiltshire have had an extremely busy day today. Crews will remain in attendance at Ferndown Common throughout the night and reassess the incident in daylight.
He added: “We continue to advise the public who live in the area to keep windows and doors closed. I would advise anybody who doesn’t live in the area to avoid Ferndown Common. We have had a number of members of the public who have attended the scenes of fires today in order to spectate. Some people have put themselves in dangerous positions in order to get a good picture and if the conditions should change, they could find themselves surrounded by fire very quickly.”
DWFRS Wildfire Tactical Advisor Andy Elliott said: “With the hot, dry weather continuing, we would urge people to take real care when enjoying the sunshine in our beautiful countryside. If you do want a campfire or barbecue, please make sure that you’re in a safe area and that the ashes are fully extinguished and damped down before you leave. Large wildfires are thankfully rare but, when they do occur, they take a great deal of resources to bring under control, which impacts the availability of appliances for property fires and other emergencies. The damage to local wildlife is also significant, often destroying ecosystems that have taken years to build up.
The Service has the following advice for enjoying the outdoors safely:
- Avoid open fires in the countryside. If you must have a fire, make sure that you’re in a designated safe area.
- Put out cigarettes and other smoking materials properly before you leave your vehicle.
- Do not throw cigarette ends out of your vehicle. They could start a fire and destroy surrounding countryside.
- Site bonfires well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.
- Have a garden hose to hand in case the fire starts to get out of control.
- Never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin to start a bonfire.
- Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodlands, as sunlight shining through the glass can cause a fire to start. Take the items home, or put them in a waste or recycling bin.
- If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately. Do not try to tackle a fire yourself; usually they can’t be put out with a bucket of water. Please call the fire service and leave the area as soon as possible.
- If you’re intending to have a large bonfire, please advise Fire Control on 0306 799 0019 or use the form on our website – we often receive emergency calls from people who can see lots of smoke, and it helps us to know where this could be a controlled burn.
- Ensure that you know your location or a landmark so you can direct the fire service.
- Make sure you know the Countryside Code – gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code
More information can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/heath-fires