A volunteer group has reformed in response to the ever-increasing risk of devastating wildfires in Cumbria.
The newly-reformed Cumbria Wildfire Group has been engaging with organisations/national bodies, with an interest in managing and/or preventing wildfire risk in Cumbria, or who have capabilities that could be utilised during a wildfire incident.
Most of these organisations now have representatives on the group along with the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service. The group is very keen to welcome further representatives to join and work towards managing the increased wildfire risk in the county.
The group includes representatives from bodies and organisations such as Natural England, Forestry Commission, National Trust, national park authorities, RSPB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Moorland Association, police, mountain rescue and United Utilities.
Wildfires are becoming much more frequent and rapidly increasing in intensity across the whole of the UK. Climate change and changes in land management practices increasing the fuel load are the primary causes of risk.
The Government, through Defra, the Home Office and the fire service are keen for this risk to be managed effectively. The England and Wales Wildfire Forum is a strategic level forum that advises government departments and national bodies on wildfire issues. Cumbria Wildfire Group has a direct link to this forum.
There have been two large wildfires and a number of smaller incidents in Cumbria this year, with the group expecting a year-on-year increase in these types of incidents. Climate change is creating weather extremes but also significant changes which will increase the risk of wildfire occurrence – warmer wetter winters and longer drier springs and summers.
The worst of wildfires:
- Wildfires can be devastating, destroying habitats and wildlife in the area affected by the fire. Cumbria has some of the most unique habitats in the UK which we can all enjoy, lets not lose them to wildfires.
- Wildfires also can create massive pollution and traffic problems from dense smoke, creating poor air quality putting people with breathing difficulties at risk. Ash-fire debris polluting streams, rivers and drinking water, erosion exposing peat and loss of huge carbon storage and destabilising hillsides which can lead to landslides (mudslides during heavy rain).
- Wildfire can destroy valuable crops, taking away people livelihoods.
- Wildfire are dangerous and have taken many lives and injured thousands across the world. If you see a fire in the open and out of control, call 999 immediately. Make your way to a place of safety and try to meet the responding fire crews to pass on any helpful information. Its is very easy to become trapped by a wildfire therefore we advise not to try to tackle the fire, stay safe, do not become part of the problem.
Cumbria Wildfire Group can be contacted via secretary Steve Bray on email at [email protected]