Fire service warning with wildfires on the increase in West Sussex

Firefighters in West Sussex are urging people to be vigilant and use flammable materials responsibly after attending a series of wildfires in Houghton, Fishbourne and Walberton.

Following the prolonged period of dry weather, the number wildfire outbreaks is on the rise with the service attending 32 grassland fires since July. A third of those incidents have taken place between 1 August and 9 August.

Among the latest incidents were two field fires on the afternoon of Tuesday 9 August.

Joint Fire Control received multiple 999 calls to a large field fire near Clay Lane, Fishbourne. On arrival the fire was spreading further, and firefighters worked hard to surround the fire before extinguishing it around two hours later. Crews remained at the scene for some time, damping down and checking for hotspots. In total, around 20 hectares of grassland was destroyed.

At the same time, Joint Fire Control received a call to a field fire in Yapton Lane, Walberton. At its peak, five fire engines and five off-road vehicles were at the scene battling the blaze which involved 15-acres of grassland.

A joint investigation into the cause is now being carried out with Sussex Police.

Nicki Peddle, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s Head of Prevention said: “With it being the summer holidays, more people are out enjoying the sunshine and socialising with their friends, which we encourage. However, we are urging people to please put fire safety at the forefront of their minds and consider potential risks in our communities.

“Using disposable barbecues in grassland areas, having bonfires and throwing cigarettes out of car windows all have the potential to be extremely dangerous and start wildfires in this dry weather. However, there are hidden fire safety risks, such as leaving litter on the ground. So, we’d also encourage people to pick up litter as and when they see it to minimise the risk of a fire starting.

“In the current climate it is vital that we are quickly alerted to fires in order to stop the spread, so please don’t hesitate to call 999 if you think there’s a fire and get to a place of safety immediately.”

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