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More than 700 outdoor and grass fires across South Yorkshire in a single month

The scorched grassland in Denaby.
The scorched grassland in Denaby.

There has been a huge rise in fires started outside during the heatwave with more than 700 incidents across South Yorkshire in just a month.

During the recent hot weather covering between June 18 and July 18 fire crews were called out to 760 outdoor and grassland fires - with about two thirds of them being started deliberately and a third accidental.

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This was more than three times higher than the same period last year which had 209 incidents and was much higher than 2016 with 68 fires and 2015 with 145 incidents.

The most common fire was on 'grassland, pastures, grazing' with 312 incidents, including a fire which has been smoldering for several days this week on land near Kilner Bridge, Denaby Main.

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South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue is now urging people to take extra fire safety precautions in the hot weather in a bid to reduce incidents and ease pressure on services.

Tony Carlin, head of emergency response, said: “Our crews are providing a fantastic service in what are clearly very hot, difficult firefighting conditions. We are proud of each and every one of our firefighters and control operators and they are rightly receiving praise from the public during what is a busier than usual period for us.

“But with the forecast set to remain warm and dry for several weeks, we really need people to help us, help them by taking some basic precautions to prevent fires. For example, take rubbish with you if you are out and about in the countryside as glass bottles and cigarette ends can easily start fires.

“We’d much rather people put off having garden bonfires until the hot, dry weather has subsided, but if you do insist on having a fire make sure it is sited well away from sheds, buildings and trees and don’t leave it unattended.

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“And with around three quarters of all the fires we attend being arson, report people starting fires in your area to police 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.”

This also comes as businesses are being urged to upgrade their smoke alarm systems to help alleviate pressure on firefighters tackling high numbers of incidents this summer.

The brigade is now calling on firms to back up their automatic fire alarms with 999 calls.

Fire crews automatically attend certain industrial and commercial premises which are fitted with specialist smoke alarm systems, despite the call outs almost always turning out to be false alarms.

Officers want building managers of non-life risk premises to dial 999 to confirm if there is definitely a fire when alarms go off.

Andy Hayter, group manager at the fire service, said: “Most false alarms are caused by faulty fire detection equipment, people setting alarms off by accident, not following correct fire alarm test procedure or building managers failing to investigate the cause of the fire alarm.

“Whilst we will always attend incidents where there is definitely a fire, this short term, common sense measure will help to ensure that our fire engines are available to attend genuine emergencies if they do occur.”

To reduce false alarms, businesses should check their alarm systems regularly and train staff properly on what to do if an alarm sounds.