Heatwave has sparked surge in outdoor fires in Hertfordshire, figures show

PUBLISHED: 13:25 18 July 2013 | UPDATED: 15:55 19 July 2013

Crews have been called to four times as many outdoor fires as they were last year

Crews have been called to four times as many outdoor fires as they were last year

Archant

FIREFIGHTERS across Hertfordshire have been called to four times more outdoor fires so far in July than they were last year.

The heatwave has been blamed for the surge, which has seen 111 calls to incidents involving crops, grass and the open countryside so far this month.

In the same period last year, that figure was 28.

Today (Thursday), the county’s chief fire officer, Roy Wilsher, said: “Every year acres of countryside and wildlife habitats are destroyed by fire and the risk increases considerably during dry weather.

“Although outdoor fires are rarely life-threatening to people, they can cause long-lasting damage to our surroundings and fires of this sort are easily preventable if you take sensible precautions.”

Revellers have been urged not to light open fires outside, and only have barbecues in places where it is permitted.

Glass bottles can also be a hazard, say fire chiefs, as they magnify the sun’s rays.

Cigarette butts can also cause fires which easily spread in the current weather.

Anti-arson patrols by community volunteers will be stepped up, and fire crews will be at event across the county to spread safety messages.

Councillor Richard Thake, who is responsible for community safety at County Hall, said: “Hot, sunny weather increases the chances of outdoor fires, which can destroy the countryside we should be trying to preserve for future generations.”

For more information on fire safety, visit www.hertsdirect.org/fire or call 0300 123 4046.

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