The continued hot weather and increased use of Chinese lanterns has led Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to issue a warning for National Parks Week, which takes place this week.
The prolonged heatwave has left much of Hampshire’s countryside vulnerable to fire, including the New Forest. This, combined with the use of Chinese paper lanterns as night-time illuminations, means much of the countryside is at risk of fire.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s head of community safety, Area Manager Steve Foye, said: “We are currently experiencing some fantastic summer weather and it is only natural to want to go outdoors and enjoy it with family and friends.
“We’re just asking the public to be extra vigilant and follow a few simple steps, such as extinguishing cigarettes properly and not throwing them on the ground or out of car windows.
“Avoid open fires in the countryside, unless you’re in a safe designated area. We do not support the use of Chinese lanterns and asks members of the public and event organisers to refrain from using them.
“Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and if you do see a fire, don’t attempt to tackle it yourself. Call 999 and leave the area as quickly as possible.”
Firefighters from Rushmoor, where more than a third of calls are related to fires in open grassed areas, are carrying out regular wildfire patrols throughout June, July and August to raise awareness of the dangers. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is also urging landowners and managers to ensure fire breaks are cut and well maintained, with cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.