Deliberate fires spark wildfire warning from fire service

This weekend West Sussex will be at a ‘very high’ risk of severe fires.

Fire at Ashenground Road, Haywards Heath

Release date: 29 July 2022

Firefighters across West Sussex have attended several deliberate fires which could have had devastating consequences as the county is a ‘very high’ risk of wildfires.

Over the last month, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has attended over 60 fires that were started deliberately, which is a huge risk when coupled with the extremely dry conditions.

On Wednesday night (27 July), firefighters from Bognor Regis and Haywards Heath dealt with two deliberate fires at either end of the county.

At 9.55pm, fire crews from Haywards Heath were sent to Ashenground Road after receiving reports of a fire in a woodland area. After an hour and a half of battling the blaze, firefighters were able to successfully extinguish the fire using hose reels.

Then 10 minutes later, Joint Fire Control received a call to Longbrook Park in Bognor Regis and two fire engines from Bognor Regis were sent to the scene. On arrival, firefighters found one playground well alight, which landed up being completely destroyed by the fire.

Both incidents are believed to have been started deliberately and Sussex Police have been informed.

Matt Gamblen, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s Wildfire Tactical Adviser said: “Despite temperatures declining since the heatwave, the ground is still extremely dry and we strongly advise that people refrain from starting fires outdoors. It doesn’t take much for these fires to spread to nearby undergrowth, or even worse, buildings and properties.

“The Met Office’s Fire Severity Index shows that this weekend West Sussex will be at a ‘very high’ risk of severe fires. This means that should a fire break out, it will likely spread very fast.

“Starting a fire deliberately is incredibly irresponsible and wastes both your time and our time. More importantly, it could prevent us from quickly attending an emergency incident where we are needed most, perhaps involving your loved ones.

If you have concerns about a young person’s behaviour and believe they could be at risk of starting a fire you can contact West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s FireWise Team.

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