Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hot spell sparks gorse fires

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is urging the public to be extra vigilant during the current hot spell, following two gorse fires within 24 hours.

The first happened at Castle Hill on Fort Road in Newhaven at 9.33pm on 14 July 2013.
It is deemed to be deliberate with two separate seats of fire identified.

The second was at Peacehaven Golf Club at 12.06 on 15 July 2013. The cause is believed to be accidental, involving a camp fire.

On both occasions areas of gorse approximately 150 square meters were burning.

Police are appealing for witnesses in connection with the arson in Newhaven. They can contact Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

Lewes Borough Commander Garry Collins said:

“Both these fires needed a large number of resources. We were faced with difficult conditions and limited access.

The fire at Peacehaven demonstrates how quickly a camp fire – or barbeques - can cause a serious problem.

We have a simple message to people out and about in East Sussex: avoid any naked flames, smoking, barbecues or open fires in the countryside - particularly during the current hot dry period.”

Dan Ross, Community Ranger, said:

“Castle Hill Local Nature Reserve and Bollens Bush in Newhaven where recent fires have taken place, are both managed as Nature Reserves by Lewes District Council. They are both undergoing habitat restoration programmes, to help restore habitats for wildlife including reptiles, butterflies, birds and flowers. These sites are relatively small and fires can have significant impact on the wildlife, which is already under pressure from expanding towns and intensive agriculture. 

"Additionally, the close proximity of these sites to the urban population, combined with seasonal hot weather conditions, means any fires could spread to housing or other infrastructure, endangering people and property."

How to reduce the risk of wildfires 
  • Dry ground in the summer means there’s an added risk of a fire starting, but you should take care at all times of the year. Follow these tips to reduce the chance of a wildfire in the countryside.
  • Extinguish cigarettes properly and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground – take your litter home.
  • Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
  • Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
  • Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires (take them home and recycle them).
  • Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, report it to the fire and rescue service immediately.
  • Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.
  • If you can, prepare for the arrival of the fire and rescue service at the pre-arranged meeting point, by unlocking gates, etc.

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