STAFFORDSHIRE firefighters are warning people to be extra careful when using barbecues, now that the current hot spell is encouraging people to eat outdoors.
The warning comes following a series of incidents involving barbecues at the weekend.
Firefighters from Hanley were called to a waste bin fire in Hanley Park at around on Sunday evening, which is believed to have been caused by hot charcoal being placed in the bin.
Earlier in the evening, crews from Sandyford were called to another incident involving a charcoal barbecue
After struggling to light the barbecue, a man poured petrol onto it causing out of control flames to set fire to nearby wooden fencing and children’s garden toys.
The barbecue was also fairly close to the house and could have spread further without the intervention of firefighters.
On Saturday afternoon, crews from Loggerheads responded to a fire in Gainsborough Road, Newcastle.
Flames from a barbecue placed too close to a hedge spread to nearby conifers and caused around eight metres of damage.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has tackled several grass fires over the weekend, which have a major impact on frontline firefighting resources.
A spokesman said: “While the majority are deliberate, some are caused by seemingly innocent mistakes, such as leaving a barbecue unattended or not properly extinguishing a cigarette
The Service is running a ‘Flames Aren’t Games’ campaign in a bid to prevent such incidents.
Throughout the summer the fire service personnel will work with partners to support them in providing free activities for young people. Regular social media posts will also be used to prompt parents to talk to their children about the dangers of setting fires.
Donna Broadhead, Prevent Manager for the north of the county, said: “We have seen some excellent weather over the weekend and it looks set to continue. While we want people to enjoy it – we want you to stay safe at the same time.
“It is vital not to leave a lit barbecue, even for a few minutes, or to drop a cigarette that hasn’t been fully extinguished – the consequences could be tragic.
“Grass fires spread rapidly and can destroy acres of land as well as tying up vital firefighting resources for hours, days or even weeks.”
The service has put together the following top tips for summer safety:
- Make sure cigarettes are put out properly and never throw them out of car windows – they could start a fire and destroy the countryside
- Never leave a lit barbecue unattended and don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of cooking
- Never take a barbecue into an enclosed space like a tent – the carbon monoxide it gives off could be fatal
- Do not deliberately start a grass fire – this is a crime which not only puts the countryside and wildlife in danger, it also poses a serious risk to life.