Sidmouth campers get gorse fire warning

DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are urging the public to be careful with camping equipment whilst in rural areas.

DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are urging the public to be careful with camping equipment whilst in rural areas.

The warning comes after a large gorse fire ignited near Princetown on Sunday ( March 22).

The cause of the fire was a camping stove that had been knocked over which caused three square km of moor land to catch fire burning over four fire fronts.

Crews from Princetown, Tavistock, Crownhill, Ivybridge and Greenbank initially tackled the fire which lasted for three hours after light winds fanned the fire to unaffected areas.

At the height of the incident there were twelve appliances trying to bring the fire under control. A water-carrying helicopter and five national park rangers were also involved.

Incident Commander Dale Durante said: "This was a demanding incident for us to attend as it presented numerous logistical challenges in getting enough personnel to the fire scene due to its remote location which was well out onto the moors with no access via roadways so this involved the use of the police helicopter and national park ranger land rovers. All of the crews who attended this incident needed to work very hard to bring this fire under control and ultimately extinguish it.

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"If those responsible for starting the fire had made proper use of the countryside code, the whole event could probably have been avoided. I hope lessons can be learnt from this incident and others don't make the same mistakes.

"This was a multi-agency response involving Dartmoor's rangers, police, ambulance and local commoners association. We have a pre-arranged fire attack plan which swung into force during this operation and proved to work very effectively."

Following this incident Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are advising people to be vigilant in rural areas and follow this simple advice:

* Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly.

* Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.

* Don't leave bottles or glass in woodlands - sunlight shining through glass can start fires; take them home or put them in a waste or recycling bin.

* Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended

* Avoid using open fires in the countryside.

* If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately.

* Don't attempt to tackle fires that can't be put out with a bucket of water - leave the area as quickly as possible.