Disposable barbecue probable cause of fires last week on Lickey Hills, says HWFRS

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Following the fires last week at Lickey Hills and Hartlebury Common, and elsewhere, HWFRS are reminding people to take particular care when out in the countryside.

Initial conclusions are that one of the fires on Lickey Hills was caused by a disposable barbecue which ignited the extremely dry ground, with hot ash possibly being blown some distance away and sparking the second fire.

No remains of a barbecue were discovered, but obvious scorch marks on the ground were found, consistent with the size and shape of a disposable barbeque.

It had been removed by the owners, probably in an effort to act responsibly, but the ground around it would have remained hot enough to cause the fire after the picnickers had departed.

It has not been possible to form a definitive conclusion about the cause of the fires on Hartlebury Common, which might have been accidental, although it cannot be ruled out that one or both were started deliberately. No actual remains of anything that could cause a fire were found.

Station Commander Richie Young, who conducted the initial investigation into the Lickey Hills fires, said:

“Given that we are continuing to deploy to fires in the open on a daily basis, we would remind people to exercise extreme caution and not to use disposable barbecues in the countryside at all, even if they take them away afterwards.

“We’re expecting more hot weather later in the week, and the ground remains tinder dry and extremely combustible, so please avoid having barbecues or campfires, discarding cigarettes or litter, or dropping glassware which can also ignite fires.

“Even if we get the occasional rainshower, don’t assume the ground will be damp and therefore safe. An inch or two below ground it will still be intensely hot.

We’re grateful to the public for their support on this. Please take care and stay safe.”

Further information on how to stay safe and avoid causing fires or other incidents is on our website at Safety and advice | Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (hwfire.org.uk).

More safety advice can be found at www.hwfire.org.uk, www.gov.uk/firekills or by calling the Prevention Team on 0800 032 1155.