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Cumbria Fire Service urges public to think twice about garden fires

Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is asking householders in the county not to burn garden waste during the Coronavirus pandemic in order to avoid accidental fires.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service has seen a slight rise in the number of garden fires over recent weeks and, with the fine weather set to continue, is asking the public to refrain from burning their garden waste.

Several fires in Cumbria started as controlled burnings which have then got out of hand and needed to be extinguished by firefighters.

In the most recent incident on Easter Monday, Keswick firefighters were called out to a controlled burning garden fire near Thornthwaite which had subsequently ignited the surrounding area of grass and gorse bushes, meaning an area of approx. 500 square metres being burnt. The fire took specialist crews from Keswick, Ambleside, Windermere and Silloth plus a fire engine and specialist water carrier from Penrith over two hours to bring under control using specialist wildfire equipment.

Brian Steadman, Area Manager, Head of Operational Response, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is another example of how easy it is for the burning of garden waste to spread and get out of control, especially in the current spell of dry weather. We appreciate that people may be clearing their gardens and because waste recycling centres and garden waste collections are temporarily suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions, they want to get rid of vegetation, but setting it alight is not the answer. We will always respond to emergency calls but unnecessary fires such as these pull our firefighters away from other vital work and could expose them to the coronavirus.”

Cllr Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Fire and Rescue, said: “Our emergency services are under increased pressure during the Coronavirus pandemic and unnecessary garden fires which get out of control risk keeping firefighters from lifesaving work. I can understand people may be tempted to burn some of their garden waste but it’s a risk that’s simply not worth taking. I would ask residents to home compost any garden waste they have or to store it until garden waste collections can restart or our household waste recycling centres can reopen.”

For more information and advice on dealing with garden waste during the Coronavirus pandemic, go to: https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/planning-environment/waste-management/covid19.asp

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