National Park issues fire alert and urges caution to support emergency services amid coronavirus

Published 17th Apr 2020

The North York Moors National Park Authority has issued a fire alert following recent dry conditions and is urging the public to be mindful that wildfires put unnecessary strain on the emergency services as they combat COVID-19.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has recently reported that despite social distancing measures they have still been called out to a number of deliberate fires in North Yorkshire over the last few weeks. There is also an increased risk of accidental fires from things like discarded cigarettes due to the current dry spell.

The National Park Authority has also been very clear that everyone should be following the latest government guidance by avoiding all nonessential travel into or around the National Park. Therefore, no one should be lighting fires or BBQs in the open countryside of the National Park.

The government has permitted that people can leave their homes for exercise, but this should be done locally using open spaces near to your home and so if anyone is out in the National Park they should remain vigilant and report any fires to the emergency services. The annual moorland burning season is over so any moorland fire is a wildfire and should be reported to the emergency services immediately.

Senior Ranger, Bernie McLinden, said: “We all need to do our bit to reduce pressure on the emergency services and protect our NHS. No one should be lighting fires or BBQs in the open countryside of the National Park and people should not be discarding any cigarettes, matches or glass bottles.

“It is not unprecedented for fires to occur at this time and the majority of moorland fires can be prevented, so we would urge people to keep following government guidance by avoiding all nonessential travel and to take extra care if out exercising in the National Park.”

He also wanted to remind anyone who lives near to moorland, forests and grasslands of the risks to wildfires spreading from garden fires and BBQs.

Dave Winspear, Group Manager Prevention and Protection from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service added “Every year we attend wildfires, many of which are started accidentally by people having barbecues on grass or through campfires that spread. We’re asking people to take extra care in the current circumstances and echo the advice of the National Park Authority, if you’re travelling through the parks please don’t be tempted to have a campfire or throw cigarettes on the ground and make sure you take glass bottles home with you to be disposed of safely.”

The National Fire Chiefs Council has also reiterated its warning urging people not to light sky lanterns to show solidarity for NHS workers. Lanterns are a fire hazard; pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, thatched properties and hazardous material sites. Almost 90 local authorities across the UK have banned the use of lanterns.

If people see a fire, they should report it quickly to the fire and rescue service by dialling 999.