Spate of gorse fires prompts safety warning

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are urging people to stop and think about the consequences of gorse and grass fires following seven gorse fires in the Catherton Common and Clee Hill areas in the last two weeks.

Recent dry weather has increased the risk of rural fires and some of these incidents are believed to have been ignited deliberately or have involved uncontrolled burning by landowners leaving fires unattended.

These fires often get out of control when they are left unsupervised and end up affecting large areas of gorse and bracken resulting in firefighters being called out to extinguish them.

Gorse fires can have a significant impact on Fire Service resources, with firefighters often tied up for a considerable length of time trying to bring these fires under control. Each time an appliance turns out it costs the Community on average £350.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service would recommend landowners on the day of any intended burn to inform Fire Service Control on 01743 260 200 of the location of the burn and the name of the responsible person. This will prevent time and resources being wasted if we are called to attend a controlled fire.

The following guidance is provided for anyone planning a controlled burn:

  • Ensure you have sufficient people and equipment to control the fire
  • Check wind direction and ensure there is no risk to property, roads and wildlife
  • If a fire gets out of control contact the fire service immediately by dialing 999 giving details of location including grid reference and access points
  • Always ensure a fire is completely out before you leave it and check next day to ensure it has not reignited
  • It is illegal to leave a fire unattended or to have too few people to control it

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are also urging visitors to the countryside to take extra care when they are out and about and reduce the risk of fire.

Setting fires is a criminal offence and we are actively working alongside West Mercia Police to combat deliberate incidents. Anyone with information on such crimes is advised to anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

16th March, 2011