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Wildfire warning level raised to second-highest tier

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IF the minority of Islanders who recently demonstrated a lack of regard and respect for the Island’s public spaces take their behaviour into the very dry countryside, it could spell disaster, the Chief Fire Officer has warned.

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Paul Brown made the comments following six bin fires within one week, caused by people getting rid of disposable barbecues without checking they had sufficiently cooled down.

And, following more than two weeks with negligible amounts of rainfall, low humidity and a stiff breeze, the countryside fire warning level moved to its fourth tier yesterday – the second-highest level of alert.

‘We have heard stories about people leaving behind litter, broken glass and other bits of pieces – if it is coming from that lack of regard and lack of respect, that worries me,’ he said.

‘If those minority of people are displaying those same sorts of behaviour in our large areas of furze and gorse, then that is a recipe for disaster.

‘With regards to the bin fires caused by barbecues, at the moment, what that has done – as inconvenient and costly as it is – is result in molten eurobins.

‘But, of course, we all understand how severe the consequences could be.

‘We all need to work together as Islanders to make sure we avoid a wildfire breaking out. So it is about awareness for people who simply do not know about the risks and it is an appeal for people’s better nature for when they do know about the risks.’

On Tuesday, Jersey Met revealed that the Island had gone 15 days with just 0.2mm of rain recorded. They are predicting that the sunny and dry weather will continue for at least the next six days.

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And now the countryside fire warning level has moved to four – the second-highest level. The scale indicates how likely a fire is to spread if one starts.

‘There are a combination of factors that come into play to increase the risk of wildfires and we are seeing a number of them at the moment – a long, hot dry spell, the low moisture content in the ground and plant life and also wind,’ Mr Brown said.

‘If we get enough of a breeze and a fire should start, then the speed of fire development could be very significant.

‘We have plans in place and we train for this sort of thing anyway, and we will soon be making some announcements about being careful.’

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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