Countryside Fire Warning

People are being asked to avoid lighting fires or barbeques when visiting the countryside as the dry conditions have increased the risk to people and wildlife.

The recent hot weather has dried out large areas of countryside and means a fire could spread quickly and be difficult to get under control.

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘We still want people to enjoy the great outdoors in this glorious weather, but it is crucial to be vigilant.

‘In the current conditions wildfires can cause havoc and place people, wildlife, habitats, livestock and crops under unnecessary risk, so our message is simple – please avoid lighting barbeques, camp fires, bonfires, or discarding cigarettes near combustible vegetation, and respect our amazing Biosphere.’

DEFA has installed a number of warning signs across their upland estate regarding lighting fires and using barbeques on their land, which includes registered heathlands and biodiverse nature reserves.

The controlled burning of vegetation by land managers is forbidden at this time of year so anyone who sees a fire should call 999.

Kevin Groom, Chief Fire Officer at the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service (IoMFRS), said: ‘The recent dry spell has enabled many of us to enjoy our beautiful countryside, but it has also increased the risk of wildfires, so people must stay fire-aware.’

Over the last 18 months the IoMFRS has attended 37 wildfires including one in Dalby earlier this year that required a multi-agency response and more than 50 firefighters to put out.

Mr Groom added:  ‘A small fire, such as a BBQ that is incorrectly disposed of, can very quickly result in a large developing fire that may destroy our natural landscape and habitat and affect livestock and property.

‘We ask people to think about their actions and their consequences, as a developing fire would immediately place a rapid demand on our finite resources, so we strongly support the clear messaging given by DEFA and urge anyone that sees a fire to dial 999 immediately.’

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