Wild fire warning as temperatures climb

Fire in Thetford forest

Fire in Thetford forest

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Fire bosses have urged people to be vigilant after a series of forest and grass fires.

With temperatures climbing after weeks of dry weather, the countryside has become a vast tinderbox.

Suffolk Fire Service station Commander Will Tel said: “With the very dry conditions we’re on high alert and people need to be even more vigilant where there are residences nearby.

“If you see a wild fire, dial 999 giving the location. If it is it is near residential property, say that.”

In forestry areas it helps to give a fire track number which are displayed where tracks meet roads.

He said people should only try to use fire fighting equipment at forest sites on small fires and added: “Don’t underestimate a forest fire. In America recently 19 fire fighters died in them one.”

Stn Cmdr Tel added: “Be responsible. Avoid barbecues in forests. Even in designated areas, make sure you have some water and damp it out when you’ve finished. Discard cigarettes and rubbish, like bottles, responsibly.”

He said bottles start fires in the same way as a magnifying glass in the sun.

Even a home barbecue should be put out rather than being left to go out. The Forestry Commission says disposable barbecues must be put on a fire-proof surface, not on wooden structures or leaf litter on a forest floor.

Stn Cmdr Tel stressed that throwing a cigarette out of a car window does not put it out. “Everything is tinder dry and that could start a fire,” he added.

Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection said: “We want people to be sensible and vigilant and to prevent barbecues and bonfires getting out of control wherever possible, but if things do go wrong people should call the Fire and Rescue service on 999.”

On Monday night crews from Mildenhall and Brandon spent almost two hours tackling a fire in King’s Forest near Mildenhall.

On Wednesday morning a Mildenhall crew took an hour to bring a fire under control in Mildenhall Woods near Cypress Close, which is on an estate with woods on three sides.

In addition there have been numerous grass fires, some started deliberately, which can spread extremely quickly with the wind behind them.

Last Sunday police and forestry officers looking for illegal motorcyling in Thetford Forest also had to put out three barbecues.