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Spate of gorse fires prompts safety warning


North Wales' Arson Reduction Team is urging people to stop and think about the consequences of grass fires following a spate of incidents in Blaenau Ffestiniog over the last week which have tied up valuable resources.

Crews were called to three separate grass and gorse fires on and around farms in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area on Sunday evening (24th) at 18.27, 18.32 and 19.37hrs. Crews from Blaenau were supported by crews from Porthmadog as they fought to bring the fires under control.

Firefighters were then called out again three times last night, Wednesday 27th at 19.23, 19.57 and 21.10 hrs to deal with another three grass fires in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area.

Arson Reduction Manager Kevin Jones said that the recent dry weather had increased the risk of rural fires and that it was disheartening to find that many of these incidents had either been ignited deliberately or involved uncontrolled burning by landowners who had left fires unattended.

"We have received numerous notifications of controlled burning events over the last few days from across the region, and we'd like to thank those people notifying us and acting in a safe and responsible manner. These are fires we do not generally attend although occasionally they can be very visible and attract the attention of the public - but they are controlled and we are aware of them.

"However, controlled  fires can get out of control when they are left unattended - they end up affecting large areas of gorse and bracken and we are called out to extinguish them.

"Fires like this place tremendous pressure on resources, with firefighters often tied up for a considerable length of time trying to bring these fires under control.

"Quite often these fires happen in areas where access is extremely difficult and water supply is limited.

"To reduce such instances, on the day of the intended burn we are asking that landowners inform fire service control on 01745 535805 of the location of the burn - this will prevent time and recourses being wasted by the fire service attending a controlled fire.

"Please follow the guidelines below if you are planning a controlled burn:

- Ensure they have sufficient people and equipment to control the fire
- Check wind direction and ensure there is no risk to property, roads and wildlife
- If a fire gets out of control contact the fire service immediately giving details of location and access
- It is illegal to leave a fire unattended or to have too few people to control it. Always ensure a fire is completely out before you leave it and check next day to ensure it has not reignited".

"The Fire and Rescue Service is also urging visitors to the countryside to take extra care when they are out and about and reduce the risk of fire.

"Remember - setting fires is a criminal offence and we are actively working alongside North Wales Police to combat deliberate incidents, employing the police helicopter to pinpoint the fires and to look out for perpetrators.

"Anyone with information on such crimes is advised to anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

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