Danger alert over wild fires on South Downs heathland

PEOPLE out enjoying the South Downs National Park’s rare lowland heaths are being asked to be extra vigilant in the hot weather, not to tackle fires themselves and to report any signs of smoke to the fire brigade immediately.

Bruce Middleton, who manages the South Downs ranger teams for the Wealden Heath Area of the National Park, said:

“Open heathland is rarer than rainforest and the South Downs’ lowland heaths are home to unique wildlife that can’t survive anywhere else. But the heaths are also particularly vulnerable to wildfire.

“We work closely with landowners so that we know which heathlands are most at risk.

“The sooner a fire is reported the quicker the fire service can start to fight it and more rare animals and plants will be saved.”

Members of the public should not attempt to tackle wildfires themselves but should report them to 999, giving the operator as accurate a location as possible, including the name of the heath, the nearest road and/or car park and, if possible, a grid reference.