East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is urging the public to be extra vigilant during the current hot spell, following two gorse fires within 24 hours.
Firefighters have been battling fires at Castle Hill in Newhaven, which is believed to have been deliberate, and a second at Peacehaven Golf Club which is believed to be accidental involving a camp fire.
Crews from a number of East Sussex fire stations were called out to deal with the blazes, with around 150 square metres burning.
Lewes Borough Commander Garry Collins said: “Both these fires needed a large number of resources. We were faced with difficult conditions and limited access.
“The fire at Peacehaven demonstrates how quickly a camp fire – or barbeques - can cause a serious problem.
“We have a simple message to people out and about in East Sussex: avoid any naked flames, smoking, barbecues or open fires in the countryside - particularly during the current hot dry period.”
Community ranger, Dan Ross, pointed out that both these fires had a significant impact on wildlife. Both sites had habitat restoration programmes to restore the area for reptiles, butterflies, birds and flowers.
He said: “These sites are relatively small and fires can have significant impact on the wildlife, which is already under pressure from expanding towns and intensive agriculture.
“Additionally, the close proximity of these sites to the urban population, combined with seasonal hot weather conditions, means any fires could spread to housing or other infrastructure, endangering people and property.”
East Sussex Fire and Rescue have published a list of key points to reduce the risk of wildfires
• Dry ground in the summer means there’s an added risk of a fire starting, but you should take care at all times of the year. Follow these tips to reduce the chance of a wildfire in the countryside:
• Extinguish cigarettes properly and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground – take your litter home.
• Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
• Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
• Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires (take them home and recycle them).
• Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
• If you see a fire in the countryside, report it to the fire and rescue service immediately.
• Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.
• If you can, prepare for the arrival of the fire and rescue service at the pre-arranged meeting point, by unlocking gates, etc.