Understanding what a wildfire is
A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire across a large span of countryside. Wildfires can start in areas such as:
- heathland or moorland
- rail embankments
In 2019 we attended 1,792 fires in the open countryside across Devon and Somerset.
What to do if you see a wildfire
If you are outside:
- stay calm
- ensure you are in a safe location (away from vegetation and smoke)
- if you are in your car, close all windows and vents
- call 999 and inform us of your location – you can use the What3Words app.
If you are at home:
- stay calm
- put yourself in a place of safety - do not try to put out the fire yourself
- keep doors and windows closed, but unlocked
- call 999 and inform us of your location.
How you can prevent wildfires
- Take your litter home.
- Don't throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows.
- Glass in direct sunlight can cause fires - ensure there is none lying around.
- Don’t have campfires or barbecues in the countryside. Only have them in safe designated areas.
Wildfires we’ve had in Devon and Somerset
We’ve had many significant wildfires over the years. All wildfires present different problems and challenges to the fire service - often due to the conditions and accessibility.
A recent wildfire in Kingswear, South Devon destroyed two and a half square kilometres of coastal woodland and took just under 70 hours and 1,254 personnel hours to put out. The fire took place on a clifftop and was started by a disposable barbecue.
This fire took 48 fire engines and 15 special appliances, including:
- three water jets
- a helicopter providing water from the air
- a fog spike
- a fogging unit
- a light portable pump
- various beaters
- small tools.
Below are some photos from the Kingswear wildfire.