CHESHIRE Fire and Rescue Service has warned residents not to light fires in their gardens during the current coronavirus lockdown.

In the seven days since March 23, firefighters in the county have attended more than 30 intentionally lit fires in gardens, and almost the same amount again of accidentally lit small fires.

These fires relate to either ‘controlled burnings’, which may have caused a nuisance or concern, or fires that may have been started intentionally but then got out of hand and needed to be extinguished by firefighters.

Calls outs of this type of fire are rising daily, and the number of such incidents is already well above average for this period.

Since March 23 this year, there have been 21 recorded controlled burning incidents, which is almost as many as the same period in the last three years combined.

The fire service has also seen an increase in ‘small secondary fires’ since March 23 compared to last year and also the average over the last few years.

The majority of these fires are believed to have been intentionally started and have gone on to waste vital fire service resources.

Gus O’Rourke, assistant chief fire officer at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “During these unprecedented times, we need everyone to help us by staying as safe as possible.

“Since the start of the lockdown, we’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of garden related fires we are attending, and we just don’t need it.

“We will always respond to emergency calls, but unnecessary fires such as these pull our firefighters away from other vital work and could expose them to coronavirus.

“All fires can easily get out of hand very quickly, especially grass fires, which can travel very quickly and change direction without warning.”

There are not any specific laws against burning rubbish in your garden or having a bonfire there, but there are several laws that deal with the nuisance that fires and bonfires can cause.

Gus added: “I understand that people may want to keep busy and use this time to clear their gardens, and because recycling centres and garden waste collections are temporarily suspended they need to get rid of vegetation, but setting it alight is not the answer.”