'No barbecues' urge firefighters amid dry weather in north-west Essex

A field fire in Great Chesterford on July 17, 2022

A field fire in Great Chesterford, near Saffron Walden on July 17, 2022 - Credit: Gerard Clinton

Firefighters in Essex are urging residents not to light barbecues or fireworks while the county is "tinder dry".

After the driest July since 1935, according to the Met Office, Saffron Walden Fire Station received approximately 30 callouts during the first week of August.

Elsewhere in the county, a crew from Chelmsford attended a garden fire in Broomfield caused by a home firework display at around 10.47pm on Thursday, August 4.

Last month, on Saturday, July 23, a team from Thaxted was called to Harlow to provide cover when Harlow crews were tackling a large blaze in Ongar.

When in Harlow, Thaxted firefighters tackled a small outdoor fire in Roydon before an evening callout to cover at Dovercourt Fire Station, near Harwich, around 40 miles away from their base.

The blaze in Ongar on Saturday, July 23, which measured around 40,000 square metres

A blaze in Ongar on Saturday, July 23, which measured around 40,000 square metres, attended by firefighters from Harlow - Credit: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

The aftermath of a blaze which destroyed three sheds behind Fryatt Hospital, Harwich on July 23

The aftermath of a blaze which destroyed three sheds behind Fryatt Hospital, Harwich on July 23. Crews from Thaxted, more than 40 miles away, were called to provide fire cover due to "several incidents" in the area that evening - Credit: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service representatives are appealing for residents' help in dry weather.

A service spokesperson said: "We need your help!

"As the dry weather continues, please help us to help you.

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"Don't have bonfires or campfires. Don't have barbecues. Make sure cigarettes are properly out.

"Thank you!"

After the fire in Broomfield, Andy Edwards, Chelmsford Fire Station watch manager, said firework displays pose a fire risk in dry conditions.

He said: "During extended spells of dry weather, we’re discouraging people from using fireworks at home. With lots of dry grass and fields across Essex, the risks are higher and the Broomfield incident is a perfect example of how easily a fire can start in dry conditions.

"Fortunately, nobody was harmed and we were able to put the fire out quickly but this isn’t always the case.

"Please avoid using fireworks at home. And, if you really feel you need to, please make sure you have buckets of sand and plenty of water available."

Saffron Walden Fire Station crews were "busy" during the first week of August 2022

Saffron Walden Fire Station crews were "busy" during the first week of August 2022 - Credit: Will Durrant

A field fire attended by crews from Saffron Walden Fire Station during the first week of August 2022

A field fire attended by crews from Saffron Walden Fire Station during the first week of August 2022 - Credit: Saffron Walden Fire Station/ECFRS

A motorcycle fire in Essex extinguished with help from a Saffron Walden Fire Station crew

A motorcycle fire in Essex extinguished with help from a Saffron Walden Fire Station crew - Credit: Saffron Walden Fire Station/ECFRS

A shrub fire attended by Saffron Walden firefighters during the first week of August 2022

A shrub fire attended by Saffron Walden firefighters during the first week of August 2022 - Credit: Saffron Walden Fire Station/ECFRS

A Saffron Walden Fire Station spokesperson said crews in the town have been "busy".

Essex's fire, police and crime commissioner Roger Hirst has also urged other public bodies - including Essex County Council - to discourage the use of barbecues.

Mr Hirst said: "The extreme heat may have passed but everything is still tinder dry.

"Please put out the message about being particularly careful around barbecues, around careless use of fire, smoking materials to stop there being any further increase because until it rains properly it’s going to remain a high-risk environment."