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Warning after spate of fires across Cornwall over Easter

Warning after spate of fires across Cornwall over Easter

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:30am 16th April 2020. (Updated at 6:40am 16th April 2020)

Photo: Stock image of a gorse fire in Cornwall. Credit: Tolvaddon Community Fire Station

People in Cornwall are being urged not to release Chinese lanterns to show support for the NHS, because of the fire risk and dangers to animals.

Officials say there are other ways to show support as they also warn people in the Duchy about bonfires and barbecues during the dry weather.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to know the dangers as they spend more time in their gardens during the coronavirus lockdown.

Officials say that even discarded cigarette stubs can cause fire, or petrol mowers being used after winter storage. 

Over the Easter weekend firefighters attended four gorse fires on Bodmin Moor, two hedge fires at Callington and Liskeard, burning sheds and garages at Camborne, Dobwalls and Davidstow, and a fire and explosion at St Day.

“Our enforced isolation and the warm spring weather is a combination that means more people are tempted to light bonfires and barbecues, even to set off fireworks and flying lanterns.

"But the truth is that vegetation is getting very dry – some areas have not seen any rainfall for weeks – and any naked flame could spark a gorse fire or similar.

"Our emergency services are all under pressure due to the Covid 19 crisis, so we are appealing to people to find ways to enjoy their gardens and the outdoors without risking starting wildfires.”

Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, Rob Nolan

What is the advice from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service?

Bonfires are not recommended in these conditions as they not only send sparks across a large area, but smoke can add to the discomfort of people suffering respiratory illness.

Likewise barbecues, even gas-fired ones, can set fire to dry vegetation unless constantly attended.

If you are tempted, please keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby.

Thankfully this is not a traditional firework season, but fire officers and landowners strongly object to the use of flying ‘Chinese’ lanterns which carry a naked flame out across the open countryside.

They are not only a fire risk once they fall to earth, but usually have metal components that are a hazard to livestock. 

You can find more safety advice about flying lanterns here.

“Please be cautious and resist the need to use naked flames outdoors while this dry spell continues.

"We need our fire service to be there to respond to life-threatening incidents and road accidents, and to be on standby to assist their blue light colleagues.

"This is a time for everyone to behave responsibly and considerately.”    

Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, Rob Nolan

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