Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) have issued a red fire alert as the area sees a 429 per cent increase in open fires this August.

After an unprecedented increase in fires in the open in August, the public are asked not to have barbecues or bonfires during this current hot spell.

A red alert means that, should a wildfire be experienced, it could spread quickly and easily due to the dry conditions.

The risk is greatest on large areas of open land, such as heathlands, fields and even cliffsides.

From 1st – 10th August 2022, DWFRS have attended 180 fires in the open. During the same period last year, the service dealt with only 34 incidents of this nature which is an increase of over 429 per cent.

Read more: Firefighters called out to field fire near Fovant

Group Manager Stuart Gillion said: “After months of warm and dry weather, our countryside areas are tinder dry.

"This not only increases the risk of fires spreading quickly but also increases the risk of ignition."

Salisbury Journal: Dried out grass increases the risk of fire spreadingDried out grass increases the risk of fire spreading

Sparks from farming machinery can lead to a field catching fire and the service is urging farmers to take care.

"We ask everyone enjoying our beautiful countryside and coastline to vigilant with anything that could lead to a fire starting," added Mr Gillion.

Advice for staying fire safe

  • Avoid having open fires or using barbecues in the countryside. Disposable barbecues and campfires are actually banned in many parts of Dorset.
  • Extinguish smoking materials properly, and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home.
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Early detection can prevent it from developing into a large wildfire incident.
  • When calling the Fire & Rescue Service: Get to a safe place, note the fire location (apps such as What3Words can help if you’re not sure), call 999, meet the Fire & Rescue Service at the access point.
  • Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.
  • If you’re at the beach, don’t set off flares, have campfires or light barbecues as these can easily lead to gorse and foliage on the cliffs catching fire.

Landowners and land managers are advised to be prepared for fires, where possible, and ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained, with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.

'We can all play a part'

GM Gillion added: “Dealing with wildfires is incredibly resource-intensive, and some can take days – and even weeks – to bring under control.

"Alongside the devastating impact on the countryside, such fires are also very costly, and yet they can be prevented if people heed the warnings and take care. We can all play a part in keeping Dorset and Wiltshire safe from fire.”

More information on staying safe and enjoying outside areas whilst avoiding starting a wildfire can be found at

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