The National Trust has warned against the ‘irresponsible’ use of barbeques when visiting the countryside, after hundreds of acres of moorland and forestry have been engulfed by wildfires due to recent dry weather.
The plea follows several large blazes on the Trust’s land, including one near the Devon coast, which was started by an abandoned barbeque and required six fire engines and a police helicopter to extinguish (May 24).
With a record-breaking spring of sunshine leaving many landscapes dry and easily ignitable, other incidents saw a 2km moorland blaze in West Yorkshire, which tore through the nests of rare ground-nesting birds (April 6).
Pointing to a spike in the use of barbeques, which coincided with a marked increase in the number of visitors to the UK’s beauty spots, Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation at the NT, said: “We know that people have missed the outdoors and open spaces these past few months and we are pleased to welcome them back.
“But we are urging people not to bring barbeques to the countryside or the coast, as they can lead to real problems, particularly after such little rain in April and May.
“Many areas of land are till very dry and all it takes is a single spark from a barbeque or a dropped cigarette to cause a serious fire.”
Mr McCarthy highlighted fires ‘undermined’ the vital work of the NT and placed unnecessary pressure on the emergency services.
Rangers also warned litter had become an issue during lockdown, with the RSPCA receiving more than 21,600 reports of animals caught in rubbish.
“Please keep hold of your litter until you find a bin, as litter not only blights the landscape but poses a threat to wildlife,” Mr McCarthy added.