South Yorkshire firefighters called to more than 1200 grassland fires during heatwave

Grassland fire in Denaby.
Grassland fire in Denaby.

South Yorkshire firefighters have been called out to tackle three times more wild and grass fires than usual during the recent heatwave.

Figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act showed the brigade was dispatched to 1227 fires in the open between May and July - significantly higher that the 475 incidents they tackled during the same period last year.

Tony Carlin.

Tony Carlin.

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The majority of fires were to 'grassland, pasture, grazing, etc' with 514 incidents, including a major blaze at Kilner Bridge in Denaby Main which was smoldering for several days in July.

More than 70 per cent of the fires were believed to be started deliberately, almost a third were accidental and the cause for nearly three per cent was unknown.

Fire chiefs have put the figures down to prolonged spells of "exceptionally dry and hot weather" which has seen more people get out and about in the countryside giving rise to an increased chance of fires starting.

Tony Carlin, head of emergency response, said: "Our crews are providing a fantastic service in what are clearly very hot, difficult firefighting conditions.

"We are proud of each and every one of our firefighters and control operators and they are rightly receiving praise from the public during what is a busier than usual period for us.

"But with the forecast set to remain warm and dry for several weeks, we really need people to help us, help them by taking some basic precautions to prevent fires.

"For example, take rubbish with you if you are out and about in the countryside as glass bottles and cigarette ends can easily start fires.

“We’d much rather people put off having garden bonfires until the hot, dry weather has subsided, but if you do insist on having a fire make sure it is sited well away from sheds, buildings and trees and don’t leave it unattended."

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The fire brigade in neighbouring Lancashire - which has had to tackle huge grass fires on Saddleworth Moor and Winter Hill in Bolton - is reportedly considering asking the Government for emergency funding under the Bellwin scheme, which also supported emergency services after the Grenfell Tower fire last year.

But despite the rise, South Yorkshire brigade said applying for the funding is not an option

A spokesperson said: "Bellwin funding is used to support local authorities dealing with major emergencies.

"The huge incidents in Greater Manchester and Lancashire in July were declared ‘major incidents’- big fires taking weeks to resolve and calling on resources from all over the country.

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"But we haven’t experienced any incidents like that here - just a lot of smaller fires all round South Yorkshire.

"Essentially, we have firefighters on duty 24/7 anyway, so whether they are attending fires or not, it makes no difference to our costs."