Bank holiday fire risk warning across two counties

AFTER months without rain Suffolk and Norfolk fire services are urging extreme caution in tinder dry countryside.

With another long bank holiday weekend set to attract families into the driest part of the country, the two brigades are stressing there are serious fire risks in the unseasonably dry woods, fields and, even, gardens.

Suffolk said that over the four day Easter weekend it had 34 countryside fires. Suffolk’s chief fire officer Andy Fry said: “Due to the unusually hot and dry weather, we are beginning to see an increase in the number of fires across heathland and countryside areas.

“We are urging people to think very carefully about the potential risks when having barbecues, lighting Chinese lanterns, or disposing of smoking materials.”

Norfolk Fire Service group manager Rob Moyney said: “We live in a beautiful, scenic county which is there to be enjoyed, but please follow our advice and stay safe.

“The Bank Holiday weekend is coming up and Norfolk can expect an influx of visitors and people out enjoying themselves. Conditions at the moment are obviously very dry, especially in the countryside and Thetford Forest, and we would urge people to do a few simple things to help us.”

Both fire services urge people not to build bonfires until the dry weather breaks and not to start camp fires in fields and woods. If you have a barbecue they suggest keeping it well away from dry fences, sheds and trees and keeping a bucket of water handy. Smokers are urged to be responsible when disposing of matches and cigarette ends and anyone thinking of using fireworks or Chinese lanterns is told to be extremely cautious.

Last week, the Country Land and Business Association in Suffolk appealed for people not to use Chinese lanterns at all because of the risk to people, property, crops and livestock.

The Meteorological Office says East Anglia has just had its second driest March in a century with only 20 per cent of its average rainfall. The Weather Channel says the Bury area had only 3.3mm of rain in March and only 1mm so far in April.