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Concern over spate of wildfires as heat wave continues to grip region

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:50 09 July 2018

The fire on Rushmere Heath on Friday Picture: MATTHEW CALVER

The fire on Rushmere Heath on Friday Picture: MATTHEW CALVER

Firefighters in Suffolk have tackled almost 50 wildfires since Friday amid an enduring heat wave that has made the countryside dangerously flammable.

The fire on Rushmere Heath on Friday Picture: DAVE BROWNThe fire on Rushmere Heath on Friday Picture: DAVE BROWN

Families enjoyed another scorching weekend with temperatures hitting almost 31C (87.8F) in parts of the county and no rain in sight.

While this was good news for sun seekers, the hot and dry conditions fuelled a spate of fires in the open including grassland, standing crops, stubble, heathland and farms.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was called to 22 wildfires on Friday, 14 on Saturday and 12 up to 5pm yesterday.

There were two fires at Rushmere Heath on the outskirts of Ipswich.

Fire crews attending the fire on Rushmere Heath on Friday Picture: DAVE BROWNFire crews attending the fire on Rushmere Heath on Friday Picture: DAVE BROWN

The first broke out around 9.15pm on Friday and was thought to have been started deliberately.

Five crews were sent to the scene and brought the gorse blaze under control by 11.05pm.

The second started around 1.50pm yesterday in area of grass and trees measuring 80 metres by 80 metres.

The brigade sent four vehicles to the scene and the fire was dealt with by 2.45pm.

Meanwhile a large fire ignited in a 25 acre field involving loose straw and standing crops off London Road in Newmarket shortly before 3pm yesterday.

A total of seven crews from both Suffolk and Cambridgeshire were dispatched to the scene and they spent an hour tackling the blaze.

Fire chiefs last night renewed their calls to members of the public to take extra care in the countryside during the heat wave, especially when using barbecues and smoking cigarettes.

Paul Field, who was the duty officer for Suffolk fire service this weekend, said: “Following a spell of very dry weather with little rainfall the countryside has become tinder dry which has greatly increased the fire risk.

“In addition the weather is forecast to remain hot for some time and as we move towards harvest this will pose significant challenges as fire can take hold and spread extremely quickly in these conditions, this we have seen in other places countrywide such as Saddleworth Moor and in Lancashire.

“As the hot weather and conditions are set to continue we would like to urge the public to be extra vigilant and report any signs of fire immediately by dialling 999.”

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