Covidiots' BBQ sparks forest fire taking firefighters hours to put out

Covidiots’ barbecue sparks huge forest blaze that takes 60 firefighters five hours to put out

  • Sixty firefighters spent five hours tackling the fire in Puddletown Forest, Dorset
  • A photo shows the scorched remains of the barbecue that had started the blaze
  • Ten crews attended the incident, with fire extinguished by about 9pm last night
  • The flames ripped up 2.5 acres of heathland, which had been home to rare flora

Covidiots have been slammed for sparking a huge forest fire when their disposable barbecue rage out of control.

More than 60 firefighters spent almost five hours tackling the inferno in Puddletown Forest, Dorset, from 4.45pm yesterday.

A photograph of the aftermath shows the scorched remains of the barbecue that started the blaze. 

More than 60 firefighters spent almost five hours tackling the inferno in Puddletown Forest, Dorset, from 4.45pm yesterday

A photograph of the aftermath shows the scorched remains of the barbecue that started the blaze

Ten crews attended the incident near Dorchester, with the fire extinguished by about 9pm.

But the flames ripped through 2.5 acres of heathland, which had been home to rare flora and fauna.

A walker who spotted smoke in the area raised the alarm but the arsonists had vanished by the time the crews arrived.

The public has been urged to obey the coronavirus lockdown rules by only leaving the house for exercise, medical reasons or to grab essential shopping.

But the some have become restless after over a month shut indoors and the number of Britons sneaking out has been creeping up.

Dorset and Wiltshire fire safety enforcement manager Sean Blizzard said: ‘I believe a member of the public spotted smoke and called it in.

‘They mentioned they had seen people having a barbecue but when we arrived there was nobody in the area, although we found the remains of a disposable barbecue.

‘It is extremely disappointing and very frustrating as this incident could have been easily avoided by not taking it on to the heathland.’ 

Ten crews attended the incident near Dorchester, with the fire (pictured) extinguished by about 9pm

He said the fire was a big incident for his force, with it destroying an area of 100m by 100m.

The flora and fauna will take up to 20 years to regrow, but Mr Blizzard said it could have been significantly worse.

He added: ‘We have noticed an increase in call outs for attending out of control bonfires at home and accidental fires since [the lockdown] has started.

‘We urge the public to be responsible at this time and follow the government’s advice.’

A walker who spotted smoke in the area raised the alarm but the arsonists had vanished by the time the crews arrived

The flora and fauna will take up to 20 years to regrow, but Dorset and Wiltshire fire safety enforcement manager Sean Blizzard said it could have been significantly worse

But Britain’s roads were packed with traffic this morning as phone data showed millions more people are taking to the roads.

It is a further sign they are starting to get back to work despite the coronavirus lockdown.

It will pile pressure on Boris Johnson – who returned to work today – as calls for an easing of the lockdown from within his party grow.

Measures are in place until at least May 7, but the PM acknowledged frustrations over the restrictions.

Yet he insisted he would not risk a second peak in the disease by relaxing them too quickly.

Traffic builds up on the A40 at Perivale in West London at 7.20am today despite the coronavirus lockdown continuing and firefighters echoing government calls to stay at home

Multiple crews from Poole, Weymouth, Wareham, Hamworthy, Blandford, Wimborne, Dorchester, Bere Regis and Maiden Newton were involved in fighting the fire.

A Maiden Newton station spokesman said: ‘It beggars belief that someone would take a barbecue into a heathland habitat in such dry conditions where vegetation is tinder dry.

‘There have been enough warnings now about not having bonfires of any kind at the moment for peoples’ health and because they can spread without warning.

‘Please please do not have a bonfire and do not barbecue in natural environments. It’s common sense but some people need reminding.’

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