People urged not to light bonfires during COVID-19 lock-down

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has received 22 calls since April 1 to ‘fires in the open’ - most of which have been controlled bonfires.

A burning mattress and other household waste were cleared from a bonfire, lit in a housing estate’s open area midday in one incident while a second quickly grew out of control when a small garden fire took hold of ivy growing on a nearby shed and spread to a double garage containing highly flammable oxy-acetylene cylinders – a gas used for welding.

Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said: “Thankfully no one was hurt in the incidents, but we are asking if people could support their neighbours as well as the emergency services by not lighting bonfires during the COVID-19 lock-down.

“People don’t realise how quickly a fire can spread, cause serious accidents, damage and disruption to other people. It also creates extra pressure on the already busy emergency services.

“Bonfire smoke often means people are unable to open windows for fresh air and we have had reports that smoke has exacerbated COVID-19 symptoms.”

Allotment holders are also being asked to dispose of green waste from their plot by composting as much as possible an avoid bonfires.

Mr Hammerton added: “The last thing the NHS, emergency services and even other nearby residents need is added pressure – particularly from incidents that can be avoided.

“We must all help each other as much as possible by not lighting bonfires, to help protect the NHS and save lives.

“Call outs to bonfires, whether attended or otherwise, are an unnecessary strain on our service. I am sure the public would want our crews ready and able to respond to a life-threatening emergency call rather than be tied up at a nuisance bonfire.”

8th April, 2020