Rise in grass fires in Sussex prompts safety warning

German tourist Wolfgang Marin took this pictur of the fire raging in Littlehampton, with onlookers watching the drama unfold
German tourist Wolfgang Marin took this pictur of the fire raging in Littlehampton, with onlookers watching the drama unfold
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A RISE in grass fires across the area has prompted firefighters to issue a warning to residents in the Herald and Gazette area urging them to be more vigilante towards the increased risk of outdoor blazes.

As temperatures continue to rise across the county, West Sussex Fire and Rescue (WSFR) is urging people to be cautious when using barbecues, smoking cigarettes or heading out for picnics.

It follows in the wake of an accidental fire at West Beach, in Littlehampton, on Tuesday (July 16) that saw three cars damaged – one severely – and around 30m of protected grassland wrecked.

Rob Mapley, group manager for WSFR, said: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy this beautiful weather safely so they just need to be aware of the risks.

“During prolonged hot spells the ground in some areas becomes tinder dry and it only takes one carelessly discarded cigarette to spark a serious fire that puts the public, properties, wildlife and our firefighters at risk.

“We have had a slow start to the summer so it’s no surprise we are all rushing to fire up those barbecues, but we just want to ensure that people get to enjoy the outdoors safely.

“Most fire safety is simple common sense, but our crews are still called to fires started from carelessly discarded coals or barbecues that have been lit too close to trees or fences. So please take the time to observe some simple fire safety rules.”

Firefighters are offering the following advice:

. Extinguish cigarettes carefully and don’t be tempted to throw lit cigarette ends out of car windows

. If you are having a picnic, then clear up afterwards - glass bottles left behind are a particular fire hazard

. Don’t be tempted to light a fire in the countryside and if you are lighting a barbecue in the countryside or on the beach - check beforehand that it is an authorised area

. When using a disposable barbecue make sure the coals are completely cold before throwing them away

. If you are lighting a barbecue or bonfire only used approved lighting fuels, never petrol

. Never leave a bonfire or barbecue unattended and make sure you have fully extinguished them after use