Barbecues and campfires banned as Northumberland National Park warns of severe fire risk

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Northumberland National Park Authority is urging all visitors not to light fires or barbecues, and to dispose of litter carefully – especially cigarettes, matches and glass bottles.

Concerns have already been raised about some people not following social distancing guidelines, lighting barbecues and leaving litter both during lockdown and since restrictions were eased.

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Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park said: “When visiting the National Park, people should leave the area in the condition they find it.

A wildfire at Simonside.A wildfire at Simonside.
A wildfire at Simonside.

“This also means absolutely no campfires or barbecues in the Park.

“Discarded litter such as glass can be a source of fire, which can be devastating for our landscape and wildfire, as the recent fire on Simonside has shown.

“We know that many will want to come to the Park in the next few days to enjoy the countryside in the warm weather, and we are urging everyone to be extremely cautious in their visit and follow the advice of our Rangers, volunteers and signs.”

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Paul Hedley, chief fire officer for Northumberland Fire and Rescue Serice, said: “We are in an extended period of very warm, dry weather which means the vegetation can ignite easily and if not dealt with quickly can spread rapidly and cause wildfires which devastate the countryside and present a very significant risk to life and property.

A wildfire at Simonside, near Rothbury. Picture by Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.A wildfire at Simonside, near Rothbury. Picture by Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.
A wildfire at Simonside, near Rothbury. Picture by Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.

“For now I would urge anyone visiting our beautiful Northumberland countryside and coast to follow all local guidance and notices and not to use portable barbecues unless they are in a purposely designated area, and certainly not to start any campfires.”

As well as the fire on Simonside in April, wildfires have also devastated important habitats and landscapes across the country including the National Forest and the Peak District recently.

The concerns have been echoed by the Northumberland Fire Group, with chairman Angus Collingwood-Cameron saying: “Going by the evidence of camp fires and disposable BBQs left in the Cheviots and elsewhere across the county last weekend, it is only by the grace of God that we did not suffer a wildfire incident.”

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