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Sainsbury’s and Tesco halt disposable barbecues sales as UK faces ‘exceptional fire risk’

Sainsbury’s and Tescos are the latest supermarkets to have put a stop to disposable barbecues sales amid fears they could spark dangerous wildfires after the recent dry spell left grassland like a tinderbox.

It follows in the footsteps of Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Aldi in halting sales of the potentially dangerous products entirely.

Tesco initially implemented a temporary local ban on disposable barbecue sales near areas of outstanding natural beauty – a policy similar to those currently in force in Co-op and Morrisons stores.

Scorched earth left by a disposable barbecue in Greenwich Park, south London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Scorched earth left by a disposable barbecue in Greenwich Park, south London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

The supermarket is, however, understood to be planning to line the shelves again with disposable barbecues once weather conditions make it safe to do so.

Meanwhile, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “As a precautionary measure we are removing from sale all disposable barbecues until further notice.

“Safety is our highest priority and we have made this decision due to the hot and dry weather that we are currently experiencing across the country.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and listen to customer feedback.”

A disposable barbecue is thought to have caused a fire at Puddletown Forest, in Dorset, that took about 60 firefighters almost five hours to put out, 26 April 202 (Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service)
A disposable barbecue is thought to have caused a fire at Puddletown Forest, in Dorset, that took about 60 firefighters almost five hours to put out, 26 April 202 (Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service)

In the current hot dry conditions, Met Office’s fire severity index (FSI), an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach “exceptional” – the highest level – for a swathe of England by the weekend.

Last month, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) joined calls for a total ban on disposable barbecues due to the significant fire risk they pose if not put out properly – a threat exacterbated by the months of low rainfall and driest July on record for many.

Meanwhile, a petition on the UK government wesbite urging ministers to implement a national ban has so far amassed more than 21,000 signatures.

As it stands, a four-day amber warning for extreme heat from the Met Office is in place for much of England and Wales until Sunday, with warnings of health impacts and disruption to travel.

There is also a heat health alert in place from the UK Health Security Agency, with experts advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, as well as young children.