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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Spate of fires raises fears as Cumbria basks in hot weather

Firefighters are worried grass fires could become regular events after tackling a spate in recent days.

Siddick ponds photo
Fire at Siddick Ponds Nature Reserve, Workington, was believed to be arson

Seven such fires have already been reported in July and there are fears of more to come as the school holidays approach.

The latest was in Carlisle yesterday when a blaze destroyed 40m of grass at Willow Holme Lane shortly before 1pm. Others include a grass fire in Swinside, High Lorton, and in Ashfield Road, in Workington.

Bruce Wilson, station manager with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have noticed that there has been an increase over the last few week. We are concerned because the weather conditions are going to continue into next week and the school holidays are about to start so we are getting a bit nervous.”

Back in April, west Cumbria was plagued by grass fires, with more than 50 reported. The most notable was at Siddick Ponds, a nature reserve near Workington. It was hit by a blaze that had to be tackled by 40 firefighters, leaving it decimated. This was put down to arsonists.

Mr Wilson believes people could be behind some of the more recent fires but does believe all were started deliberately.

The hot weather could have been a factor, with glass magnifying the sun’s rays or cigarettes thrown away carelessly. He urged people to be careful when discarding anything that might start a fire.

Mr Wilson also said it was important people were careful if they were lighting fires or barbecues in the countryside, and said they should keep a close eye on children in case they accidentally drop something to start a fire.

He also said people should keep their own grass as short as possible, and keep anything that will burn quickly – such as wooden structures – away from their homes in case a fire does start.

Mr Wilson then urged people to provide clear directions for firefighters if they did spot a fire.

“You wouldn’t believe how important a grid reference or an address is for our response,” he commented.

However, he added that the fire service has the resources to tackle grass fires, but they can be stretched by several.

For more information on fire safety visit www.cumbriafire.gov.uk.

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