An amber alert for wildfires has been issued for Thursday this week, covering Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Dry and warm conditions increase the chances of fires in the open spreading out of control, with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service eager to avoid incidents for the sake of communities, as well as nature sites and wildlife.

HIWFRS’ Wildfire Lead, Larry Mackrell, said: “Barbecues, campfires and bonfires can very easily spread out of control and drier, warmer weather increases the risk of wildfires, so it really is vital that people take extra care when visiting our beauty spots and green spaces.

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“Fires in the open can cause significant damage to our woods, heaths and countryside. We all want to be able to enjoy being outdoors and a few simple steps can reduce the risk of fire.

“Always discard of cigarettes properly, put litter and glass bottles in a bin or take your rubbish home, and please pack a picnic, not a disposable barbecue.”

The fire service has given a number of tips to stay safe while in the countryside: 

  • Do not discard cigarettes in the countryside; dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are completely extinguished
  • Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire
  • Always take extra care if using a barbecue
  • Only light fires or barbecues in designated areas using the facilities provided – and remember, barbecues are not allowed in any part of the New Forest National Park
  • Don’t leave campfires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them
  • Talk to young people about the dangers of playing with and lighting fires
  • Report any information about illegal fire setting activities and those responsible (anonymously) to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

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The fire service has given numerous tips on how to stay safe in the countrysideThe fire service has given numerous tips on how to stay safe in the countryside (Image: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service)

If you see a fire:

  • Get to safety and contact the fire service immediately on 999
  • Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water
  • Give a map reference if possible, otherwise give a landmark such as a farm or pub to help locate the fire
  • Download the What3Words app on your phone to help us pinpoint incidents
  • Estimate the size of the area that’s burning
  • Describe the type of terrain (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland etc)
  • Evacuate the area as soon as possible

Due to the current warmer weather people may also be tempted to cool down with water activities, check out our on and around water section on how to do that safely.