Warning After Crews Tackle Forest Fire

More than 40 firefighters have tackled a large heath fire in the New Forest - they're warning visitors to take extra care with things like barbecues because of the dry weather.

At 0813, Friday 3 June 2011, fire crews were called to a heath fire involving trees and undergrowth over an area roughly the size of two football pitches at Standing Hat in the Pignal Inclosure of the New Forest near Brockenhurst.

Over 14 vehicles including fire engines, land rovers and an Incident Command Unit turned up to put out the fire.

The officer in charge of the incident Group Manager Tom Carr said:

"I would like to remind the general public how vulnerable the countryside is to heath fires during periods of warm, dry weather.

"The dry conditions increases the risk of fire substantially and many heath fires are in fact accidental, common causes include careless disposal of cigarettes, barbecues and litter.

"We urge the public to take care when in the countryside if everyone acts responsibly the risk of further fires can be reduced and the residents and visitors in Hampshire can continue to enjoy the countryside for the forthcoming summer months."

Temporary Area Manager for Prevention Steve Trevethick said:

"This type of incident is not always seen as serious by the public, however it can have a major consequence for a local community, tourism and local and regional infrastructure if major roads have to be closed.

"It also has the potential to threaten livelihoods, local businesses and buildings as well as public safety as a seemingly small heath fire is highly likely to escalate in the current weather conditions."

In the event of a fire to dial 999 immediately and ask for the fire service and report any suspicious events to police. It will help us if you could:

-Give a map reference if possible, otherwise give a landmark such as a farm or pub to help locate the fire

-Estimate the size of the area that's burning

-Describe the type of terrain (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland etc)

-Evacuate the area as soon as possible.