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RBFRS warns residents to be alert to wildfire risks

Following a recent hot and dry spell of weather, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has issued a warning to residents to be alert to the dangers posed by wildfires in rural and semi rural areas and urged anyone that sees a fire to call 999 immediately.

Wildfires can be very dangerous, spreading quickly, changing direction and threatening people, wildlife, livestock, domestic animals and property. 

RBFRS’s warning follows a hazard assessment issued by the Natural Hazards Partnership on Tuesday, which rated the wildfire risk at amber level, meaning that there are elevated wildfire conditions across much of southern England and any wildfires occurring are likely to be unpredictable, protracted and difficult to control.

In May 2011, RBFRS crews, supported by a number of other fire and rescue services, attended a devastating fire in Swinley Forest near Bracknell, which was RBFRS’ largest incident to date, in terms of resources and length of operations.

Station Commander Jon Singleton, RBFRS Lead on Wildfire Response, said: “The possibility of wildfires breaking out is very real, so I would urge anyone that spots a fire, however small, to report it by calling 999.

“We should do everything possible to minimise this risk. In this period of hot weather we strongly advise that you do not light any fires in the open, for example, bonfires. Please also ensure that you remove any rubbish, as broken glass can magnify the sun and start a fire.”

Here are some key tips on how you can help prevent wildfires in rural and semi-rural areas:

  • If you see a fire in the countryside, however small, call 999 immediately, stating the location and any local landmarks
  • If you are having a barbecue, make sure it is placed well away from sheds, fences and trees. After cooking, check the barbecue is fully extinguished and cold before disposing of the contents
  • Do not discard lit cigarette ends – make sure they are completely extinguished
  • Report anyone acting irresponsibly or carelessly with fire in the countryside
  • Remember – a wildfire can develop quickly.