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Fire service warns about bonfires, barbecues and lanterns in this dry weather

Cornwall is in the grip of a very dry spell, and with so many people using their gardens the Fire and Rescue Service is warning of the dangers of barbecues, bonfires, fireworks and paper lanterns. Even discarded cigarette stubs can cause fire, or petrol mowers being used after winter storage.

Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection Rob Nolan says: “Our enforced isolation and the warm spring weather is a combination that means more people are tempted to light bonfires and barbecues, even to set off fireworks and flying lanterns. But the truth is that vegetation is getting very dry – some areas have not seen any rainfall for weeks – and any naked flame could spark a gorse fire or similar. Our emergency services are all under pressure due to the Covid 19 crisis, so we are appealing to people to find ways to enjoy their gardens and the outdoors without risking starting wildfires.”

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Bonfires are not recommended in these conditions as they not only send sparks across a large area, but smoke can add to the discomfort of people suffering respiratory illness. Likewise barbecues, even gas-fired ones, can set fire to dry vegetation unless constantly attended. If you are tempted, please keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby. Thankfully this is not a traditional firework season, but fire officers and landowners strongly object to the use of flying ‘Chinese’ lanterns which carry a naked flame out across the open countryside. They are not only a fire risk once they fall to earth, but usually have metal components that are a hazard to livestock.

Over the Easter weekend Cornwall Fire and Rescue attended four gorse fires on Bodmin Moor, two hedge fires at Callington and Liskeard, burning sheds and garages at Camborne, Dobwalls and Davidstow, and a fire and explosion at St Day.

Rob Nolan adds: “Please be cautious and resist the need to use naked flames outdoors while this dry spell continues. We need our fire service to be there to respond to life-threatening incidents and road accidents, and to be on standby to assist their blue light colleagues. This is a time for everyone to behave responsibly and considerately.” 

For more information please visit the flying lanterns page.