FIREFIGHTERS from across the county have dealt with more than 700 incidents during the first eight weeks of lockdown, according to figures.

The startling findings come from Cumbria’s Fire and Rescue Service and they show a 10 per cent higher rate of calls than the five year average.

Just over half of all the emergency call-outs in Cumbria during this period involved fires in homes and businesses, together with wildfires.

From March 23 to May 16 the data shows that crews were called out to a total of 363 fires, up by nearly 100 compared with the same average.

The incidents included a 16 per cent rise in “dwelling” fires and a 10 per cent increase in primary fires, fires in buildings, vehicles and outdoor structures.

Craig Drinkald, the service’s area manager for community safety, said: “These statistics confirm that our firefighters have been responding to a lot more incidents, especially fires in people’s homes over recent weeks.

“While lockdown restrictions are starting to be eased, many people are still spending more time at home.

“The increasing number of incidents should serve as a warning for people to be vigilant about fire safety.

“We would encourage everyone to stay safe by taking simple precautions such as never leaving cooking in the kitchen unattended, unplugging electrical appliances when not in use and making sure they have working smoke alarms.”

One of the largest incidents was the waste fire at the Thackwood Recycling Centre, near Southwaite, late on May 5.

Engines from Carlisle East and West Fire Stations attended, together with engines from Lazonby, Brampton, Wigton, Penrith, and Appleby, were sent to the scene.

On May 9 it was reported that the fire had flared up again, because of residual heat in the waste.

Despite the higher number of incidents the figures also show a significant improvement in response times to primary fires and other emergency incidents by the service.

Firefighters were able to respond to incidents sooner than the normal during lockdown because of an increase in fire appliance availability.

Crews were also available for longer periods of time and there was less traffic and congestion on the roads.