Grass fire warning as heatwave prompts spike in blazes

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has been dealing with an high number of grass fires which is unprecedented in recent years.

In the last four days (since last Thursday) firefighters have attended 678 incidents in total of which 438 were fires in the open – largely grass and rubbish fires.

On Thursday alone firefighters were called to 99 such fires across West Yorkshire.

Meanwhile our specialist wildfire units are still helping tackle the Saddleworth Moor fire across the border.

Today (Monday) crews been called to numerous such incidents, including a large blaze in Bank Walk, Baildon where two fire engines have attended (see pictures).

Area Manager for Service Delivery  Chris Kirby said: “We have all seen the destructive nature of wildfires from the images of Saddleworth Moor and we do not want to see something of that scale happening in West Yorkshire.

“Right now that is not unimaginable.

“We have now had such a long period of sustained sunshine that the vegetation is tinder dry and will burn very rapidly should it come into contact with a heat source such as for example  a barbecue.

“Fires like these are not only labour intensive to fight but they also have the potential to spread and pose a risk to property and people.

“The fire severity index is an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start. This is currently mapped at ‘very high’ for England and Wales.

“We cannot stress our fire warning strongly enough and we do need the general public to be more vigilant and take extra care when enjoying the moorlands or in the countryside.

“Small embers or sparks from barbecues, or even carelessly discarded cigarettes, can be all it takes to start a small fire which can very quickly become a large fire and the consequences could be devastating.” 

If you are planning a barbecue in your back garden  

  • Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue or any cooking!
  • Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies.
  • Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue; use only recognised lighters.
  • Never leave a barbecue or any cooking unattended.
  • Make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.
  • Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins.  If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and start a fire. 

Keep up to date with the Met Office Weather forecast here:

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

Fire severity index  Note: The Met Office’s Fire Severity Index (FSI), is an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start. It is not an assessment of the risk of wildfires occurring.