Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging members of the public to be extra careful over the coming days, following a new extreme heat warning from the Met Office.
The national weather forecaster has also raised the fire severity risk level to ‘exceptional’ for some parts of the country – in addition to its four-day Amber weather warning.
This has prompted South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s fire officers to issue another plea to the public around helping to prevent any more wildfires across the county.
They are asking people to stop having garden bonfires during the period of extreme heat, refrain from taking disposable BBQs out with them and to ensure they don’t leave rubbish – especially glass bottles – lying around.
Specifically, officers are asking people to consider the impact of their behaviour and, ultimately, wildfires, on things like the local landscape and wildlife.
“During periods of intense heat the ground becomes so dry – this means that fires are easier to start and will spread so much quicker,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint fire and police community safety department.
“Our ask of people is, first and foremost, that they don’t burn rubbish in their garden over the coming days. During a heatwave these small fires can easily get out of hand.
“We’re then asking that, especially this coming weekend, people don’t take disposable BBQs out with them to parks, fields or moorland areas. Whilst we know most people are very responsible, the risk of wildfire is literally as high as it can possibly be right now.
“And then last but not least, please take your litter home with you or put it in the bin. This one may seem random, but glass bottles in particular can magnify the sun’s rays and start fires.
“Ultimately we want people to consider the impact of their actions on not just us, but also on local wildlife. When you’re out in the countryside and in moorland areas, you are in their home, and what starts as a small fire can easily grow bigger and see them displaced.”
This latest plea comes after the service’s control room was inundated with calls late last month on what some people are terming ‘heatwave day’ – where temperatures hit 40 degrees in some parts of the country.
Across the 24 hours of that day – Tuesday 19 July – fire control operators in South Yorkshire took 2,000 direct calls, more than 1,500 of which were in relation to emergency incidents.
The service described the levels of demand as ‘unprecedented’ – with Chief Fire Officer, Chris Kirby, issuing a statement afterwards to thank staff for going above and beyond.
As well as urging people to be careful with things like BBQs and not to have garden bonfires, the service is also asking residents to be vigilant around deliberate fire-setting.
“Lots of the incidents we attended in July were started deliberately, which is really disappointing, but unfortunately not a huge surprise to us.
“Our final ask of the public is that if they know anyone who is intentionally setting fires – which tie up our crews and can put people at serious risk – then they report it to us.”
Residents can share information on arson, anonymously, by calling 0800 169 5558.