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Police and firefighters slam open-fire ban flouters amid New Forest and Christchurch wildfire alert

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POLICE and firefighters hit out at those flouting open fire bans in New Forest and Christchurch woodland amid the hot weather.

Both Hampshire and Dorset’s fire services enforced amber alerts, warning flames can easily spread out of control in the dry conditions.

At least two illegal blazes were discovered, with a Christchurch fire crew extinguishing a fully alight campfire at Steamer Point.

The fire at Steamer Point (photo: Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service)
The fire at Steamer Point (photo: Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service)

Police also responded to reports of a fire in woods behind Busketts Lawn off the A35 at Woodlands.

Officers said: “We can’t stress enough how dangerous this is.

“This one was started in the woods and one spark could have caused a major fire.

“Remind people that you can’t have a barbecue or an open fire anywhere in the [open] New Forest.”

One person reported on social media having to be treated in hospital for serious burns to their foot after attempting to stamp out a fire started at Priestlands Pond in Lymington.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service urged the public to play their part in protecting their community, precious nature sites and wildlife.

Station manager Dean Hodges said: “Fires in the open can cause significant damage to our woods, heaths and countryside.

“We all want to be able to enjoy being outdoors and a few simple steps can reduce the risk of fire.”

Barbecues should only be lit in designated areas using the facilities provided.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service launched its #BringAPicnicNotABBQ campaign, coinciding with National Picnic Week which runs until Sunday.

It highlighted the Wareham Forest blaze in May 2020 – thought to have been caused by a disposable barbecue – which raged for over three weeks, devastating a large area.People should call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 to report illegal fire-setting and those responsible.

Those who see a fire in the countryside should get to safety and call firefighters immediately on 999.

The What3Words phone app is recommended to help crews locate emergencies.

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