Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service warns of 'increased risk' of wildfires due to warm dry weather

-Credit: (Image: Rothbury Fire Station)
-Credit: (Image: Rothbury Fire Station)

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service has urged families and visitors in the county to take extra precautions in order to reduce the risk of wildfires.

It comes as the North East experiences a spell of warm, dry weather, with Monday recorded as the UK's hottest day of the year so far. Wildfires have been a significant issue for the county in recent years - in 2022, firefighters spent days tackling a blaze at Fourlaws Forest near Bellingham.

An area of around 180,000sqm of standing trees and moorland was affected by the fires. In 2020, a huge forest fire broke our near Haydon Bridge, raging through 18 hectares of woodland.

The fire service say that it is crucial everyone plays their part in keeping the county's countryside safe. Officials have warned against campfires and barbecues.

Rob Stacey, wildfire lead at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, emphasized the importance of vigilance during this period: “The coast, forests, moorlands, and farmland are the four most at-risk areas for wildfires.

"The recent warm, dry weather means the landscape is particularly susceptible to catching fire when exposed to flame. We urge everyone to be extremely cautious and help us prevent wildfires.”

Jim McNeil, deputy head of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service and National Wildfire Lead, asked residents to make simple yet impactful choices.

He said: “Avoid setting up campfires or a BBQ and instead pack a picnic.

These small, easy choices significantly reduce the risk of any wildfires starting and causing extensive damage.

“If you see a fire outside, do not attempt to tackle it yourself. Call 999 immediately. Help us find the fire by providing a precise location and any landmarks. Even in a busy area, always ring us and let us know about a wildfire, as you may be the first to inform us.”

The chairman of the county's fire authority, Coun Gordon Stewart, added: "Wildfires have a devastating impact upon the environment, wildlife and at times causes the loss of life, homes and livelihoods.

"Please do not light barbecues or campfires in public spaces, and clear away all rubbish before you leave. We all want everyone to enjoy the great outdoors during the summer and these simple steps will ensure the risks are reduced."