London Fire Brigade

Firefighters dealing with worst grass fires since 2006

19 July 2013

London’s firefighters had a busy day yesterday dealing with a spate of grass fires across London, the worst since the summer of 2006.

During the 24 period from 4pm on Wednesday, 17 July to 4pm Thursday, 18 July, the Brigade attended 37 grass fires. Despite the high number of grass fires in London, the Brigade was more than able to provide fire cover right across the capital at all times and carry out its normal day to day fire prevention work.

Firefighters have attended nearly 2,000 grass fires this year and this number is expected to rise with the hot weather expected to last for at least the next few days. In 2006, there were over 2,000 grass fires in London in July alone.

London Fire Brigade’s Head of Operations, Prevention and Response, Dave Brown said:

“We’re attending the highest number of grass fires since 2006 but we are more than able to cope with every incident in London. Grass fires can cause a great deal of damage to open spaces and wildlife, and can be avoided by making sure that cigarettes and barbecues are extinguished properly, and that glass bottles are disposed of carefully.”

The biggest grass fire dealt with by Brigade crews so far this year occurred yesterday on Mitcham Common where an area around the size of four football pitches was damaged. Firefighters worked hard in hot conditions and managed to bring the fire under control in an hour.

Later in the same afternoon, fire crews tackled a grass fire on Bridge Road in Erith. An area the size of three football pitches was destroyed.

A large number of grass fires are either started deliberately or through careless behaviour. Many are caused by discarded cigarettes and matches or glass bottles which can concentrate the sun’s rays on to parched grass and shrubbery. Cigarettes being thrown from a car window can also ignite dry grass verges.

People can reduce the risk of grass fires and make their summer safer for both themselves and their families by following a few simple rules:

• Don't leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them.
• Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire.
• Dispose of cigarettes and matches properly and make sure they are completely extinguished.
• Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires.

If you see a fire don't attempt to put it out yourself as grass fires can travel very quickly and change direction without warning. Call the fire brigade and if you can, stay around so that you can direct firefighters to the scene - but only if it is safe to do so.

Ends

Notes to editors:

For further advice on how to prevent grass fires, visit the Brigade’s website:

http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/GrassFires.asp