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Spate of gorse fires prompts safety warning


Firefighters are urging people to stop and think about the consequences of grass fires following a spate of incidents over the last week which have tied up valuable resources.

Crews were called to a large gorse fire in Blaenau Ffestiniog yesterday evening which tied up resources for over ten hours. The cause of this fire was deliberate ignition.

Another incident occurred yesterday near Dolgellau where around 50 firefighters were in attendance at a fire involving 85 acres of grass and gorse. This fire was started by the land owner as part of his land management plans but quickly developed and became out of control.

There have also been a number of smaller incidents involving grass, gorse and bracken, some deliberate and others as a result of smoking materials or barbeques not extinguished properly.

Stuart Millington, Senior Fire Safety Manager, said: The recent dry weather over the Easter break has increased the risk of rural fires.

"We have received numerous notifications of controlled burning events over the last few days from across the region, and we would like to thank those people notifying us and acting in a safe and responsible manner. However, the controlled burning season ended on the 31st March and the Heather and Grass (Burning) Regulations 2008, do not allow controlled burning to start again until October.  Burning outside of this period requires a licence from Welsh Government.

"During warmer periods, grass, gorse and heather dry and fires can develop very quickly, particularly in raised winds, resulting in fires getting out of control and spreading to neighbouring properties or forestry, with the need for the fire and rescue service to be called out to extinguish them.

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

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

"During the permissible burning periods, on the day of the intended burn we would ask that landowners inform fire service control on 01931 522 006 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. Do not throw smoking materials on grass, make sure that they are extinguished correctly. If you are having a barbeque again make sure that it is extinguished and placed away from flammable materials.

"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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