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Moorland fires: Why are they so dangerous and how can they be avoided

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Lancashire is home to several moors which are renowned for its peaty soil - firefighters say this makes them particularly vulnerable to moor fires during hot, dry weather.

If a fire breaks out and spreads to the peat, experts say the fire can last for weeks, devastating wildlife and the local economy.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue have been called out to two fires in Rivington this June

Lancashire Fire and Rescue have been called out to two fires in Rivington this June

Every year fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Some fires are started deliberately, but most are due to carelessness, says the fire service.

Read more: Winter Hill Fire: 80 firefighters continue to battle devastating moorland blaze in Rivington

In the last two years, Lancashire Fire and Rescue have been called to over 70 grass fires, many of which, could have been avoided.

Prof Chris Evans, Biogeochemist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “Almost all moorland fires are started by people – often accidentally, due to things like cigarettes or portable barbecues, but sometimes intentionally.

"The hot, dry, breezy conditions we’re experiencing at the moment allow fires to establish and spread rapidly, and more hot dry weather due to climate change is likely to lead to more fires – but to start a fire something (and usually someone) has to ignite it."

Lancashire Fire and Rescue say these simple fire safety tips will help you to stay safe in the countryside and protect it for others to enjoy:

- do not discard cigarettes in the countryside; dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are completely extinguished

- clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire

- always take extra care if using a barbecue

- only light fires or barbecues in designated areas using the facilities provided

- don’t leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them

- talk to young people about the dangers of playing with and lighting fires

- report any information about illegal fire setting activities and those responsible (anonymously) to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

IF YOU SEE A FIRE

- if you do see a fire in the countryside, contact the fire service immediately – dial 999

- don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water

- give a map reference if possible, otherwise give a landmark such as a farm or pub to help locate the fire

- estimate the size of the area that’s burning

- describe the type of terrain (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland etc)

- evacuate the area as soon as possible