FIRE chiefs have warned people to be careful in the countryside over fears that the dry and hot conditions could easily lead to wildfires.
The Durham Wildfire Fire Group and Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service say the recent spell of good weather has a downside.
William Salvin, chairman of the Durham Wildfire Fire Group, said: “After two dry months and this period of hot sunshine with warm winds, our moor and heathland vegetation is becoming tinder dry and we now have to worry about the risk of wildfire occurring.
“With schools about to break up, we will soon have many more people out enjoying themselves in our uplands and along our coast. I would urge everybody to really consider the risk of wildfire when out and about. While devastating wildfires are normally associated with moorlands, our coastal vegetation is also a high risk area. Please do not light fires, including barbeques, unless in controlled areas.
“Properly extinguish any cigarettes and do not discard items that may cause fire, such as bottles.
“I must also strongly advise anyone against buying or using Chinese/sky lanterns. If you do see fire in the countryside, do please report it by telephoning 999.”
A Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Wildfires can pose a huge drain on fire and rescue resources due to the large expanse they can cover and therefore the time required to bring such fires under control.
“We have seen only recently in Arizona that these types of fires can have devastatingly deadly outcomes.
“A very active wildfire season will stretch resources to the limit so we would ask the public to be extra careful and vigilant when out in rural areas of the county.”