THE CLA is calling on the public to take extra care in the countryside due to the increased fire risk.

The Met Office’s Fire Severity Index indicates a high to very high fire risk across the country.

The risk of fire, especially on hillsides, moors and heathland, has been elevated by high temperatures this week, coupled with a long spell of dry weather. The warm weather also increases the number of visitors to the countryside.

Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and also pose a risk to the lives of people living and working in rural and adjacent communities. Reducing the risk of wildfires is key at this time of the year, and raising awareness is one way in which the risk can be reduced.

Wildfires can be prevented by not discarding cigarettes or other smouldering material. The same can be said for litter as quite often bottles and shards of glass can spark a fire.

Some CLA members have highlighted the increased fire risk associated with disposable barbecues that are used in the countryside, urging the visiting public not to use them in rural areas. Barbecues should only take place in sheltered areas well away from combustible material, and properly extinguished afterwards.

CLA Director North Lucinda Douglas said: “In the past, we have witnessed the devastating impacts wildfires fires can have, both on rural communities and farmers, as well as scarring the landscape and destroying wildlife. We appeal to the public and farmers to be extra vigilant when out and about in the countryside.

“The tinderbox dry conditions on farmers’ fields is also of concern, especially as harvesting will start as early as next month. Farmers ought to check for dust build-up in their combines, as it is a common cause of fire.

“We encourage all farmers to equip themselves with fire extinguishers, or to have bowsers in strategic places around their field in case of fire, as well as checking their vehicles for faults which may release sparks onto dry stubble.”

In case of a fire, the public is advised not to try and tackle the fire themselves, and to alert the emergency services on the 999 number, stating as accurately as possible, the location of such a fire.