Dartmoor is at high risk of wildfires. Photo: Dartmoor NPA

Dartmoor is at high risk of wildfires. Photo: Dartmoor NPA

Bosses in Dartmoor are warning visitors the area is at an increased risk of wildfires.

The national park authority and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service pleaded with people not to light campfires and barbecues.

They said soaring temperatures and dry weather, which is set to continue in coming days, means the fire severity risk on Dartmoor is forecast as high.

Andrew Watson, head of recreation, access and estates, said: “We want people to come and enjoy Dartmoor, but we would strongly urge them to do what they can to prevent a fire from breaking out.

“There are particular concerns at the moment with the exceptionally dry weather which has made moorland habitats extremely vulnerable to fire risk.

“These fires spread very quickly and are absolutely devastating to the Dartmoor communities and wildlife including moorland birds which are nesting on the ground, and cattle and ponies.

“They also tie up local farmers at a busy time of year for them and valuable emergency and public services, something which is costly and often totally avoidable.

“Please take care and help us to continue protecting Dartmoor and everything within it.”

Darren Peters, area manager for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “We’ve seen an increase in wildfires caused by barbecues and campfires over the past few weeks.

“While we want everyone to enjoy exercising outdoors, please ‘think twice’ before engaging in behaviour that could lead to a blaze, including: discarding cigarettes, matches or leaving lighters or glass bottles on the ground which can start fires.

“Wildfires are extremely dangerous and are some of the most demanding incidents we attend. Help us to keep our communities, firefighters and environment safe by not lighting barbecues or having campfires on the moors at this time.”

Dartmoor rangers have put out notices around the moor to make sure people are aware of the risk and are asking that everyone continues to ‘Love Moor Life’ by taking all litter home.

The warning is backed by Dartmoor Commoners Council and Dartmoor Common Land Owners Association.

The Met Office’s fire severity index assesses how severe a fire could become if one were to start. The FSI shows the current day’s fire severity and a forecast of likely fire severity over the coming five days.

The index values range from 1 to 5, with 1 representing a low fire severity and 5 exceptional fire severity. Dartmoor’s is currently forecast as high.

The authorities said, if you see a fire, you should phone the fire service on 999.

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