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Fire warning issued as heatwave set to hit Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 13:18 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:44 22 July 2019

Norfolk's predicted heatwave has prompted a warning about the risk of wild fires. Photo: Norfolk fire service

Norfolk's predicted heatwave has prompted a warning about the risk of wild fires. Photo: Norfolk fire service

Archant

Soaring temperatures across Norfolk have prompted a warning about an increased risk of open fires.

A wildfire at Kelling Heath. Picture: Sophie BagshawA wildfire at Kelling Heath. Picture: Sophie Bagshaw

The heat wave, which starts this week according to the Met Office, is predicted to see temperatures rise to 30c in the north and west of the county.

And as people make the most of weather hotter than central Turkey, a warning has been issued about summer wild fires caused by barbecues, camp fires and discarded cigarettes.

Stuart Ruff, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer, said: "We would urge the public not to start camp fires and bonfires during hot, dry conditions. Please don't use naked flames and take extreme care when discarding cigarettes.

MORE: Norfolk could see highs of 35C as heatwave hits the UK

Stuart Ruff, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer. Picture: Norfolk County Council.Stuart Ruff, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer. Picture: Norfolk County Council.

"The impact of these careless acts presents a huge risk to lives and property and many open fires can been avoided."

Last year, a long dry spell led to record numbers of call outs to Norfolk firefighters who battled almost 200 wildfires in a six week period from June 1 to July 18.

On one weekend, fire crews responded to 50 open fire calls.

Some of these fires, though, were not sparked by the heat with 76 of them - 29pc - thought to be deliberate.

This was a sharp rise from figures recorded two years previously - with just 32 fires tackled by firefighters.

There was also an increase in the number of bin fires.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities at Norfolk County Council, said: "Bin fires can quickly spread to the open. We would ask people to be vigilant and if they see a fire, however small, call 999."

Places particularly susceptible to open fires are forests, heath land, cliff tops and fields.

Guy Warren, the Forestry and Conservation Business Manager at Elveden Estate in Thetford which covers 10,000 hectares, said that they have a rigorous fire safety plan in place due to the nature of their land.

It includes a map based app which acts as a direct line with the fire brigade and allows them to locate fires more accurately.

Vans are also fitted with basic fire equipment and water stations are located throughout the estate to extinguish burgeoning flames.

The estate, which has already had two fires this summer, is anticipating further blazes in light of the weather.

Mr Warren added: "It's a case of when not if."

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