Walkers urged to be vigilant after a spate of fires at a top Shropshire beauty spot

The National Trust is calling on walkers to be extra vigilant when exploring the Long Mynd after a spate of suspicious fires at the beauty spot.

Three fires last month caused damage to 12.35 acres (5 hectares) of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). At one point nine fire engines attended and domestic homes were at risk from the blaze.

With summer months approaching, the team based at Carding Mill Valley are urging everyone who visits to be extra vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour.

Long Mynd Area Ranger Dave Cowell, who assisted fire crews as they tackled last month’s blazes, said: “We are very concerned, primarily about the threat to human life and homes, but also about the destruction of valuable wildlife habitat. Linnets and a variety of warblers breed in the gorse in good numbers. Whilst we do undertake some gorse burning ourselves, as part of our continued management of the hill, this is in a carefully controlled way in partnership with the graziers.

“We know how quickly fire can spread and these recent incidents have demonstrated the seriousness of this.”

Dave and the Shropshire Hills Ranger team are urging visitors to the Long Mynd to be extra vigilant.

He said: “During summer months there is an even greater risk of fire spreading due to the dry conditions of the heath.

“We want to warn everyone of the dangers and also raise awareness of the severe impact an out of control fire can have.”

Derek Taylor, Safety in the Community Team at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The area around the Long Mynd can be extremely dry and we are asking everyone to be extra vigilant, disposing of cigarettes and matches carefully; also if farmers are carrying out controlled burns they should inform Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service beforehand on 01743 260 200.

“These fires are very resource intensive and some of the more remote locations make it difficult to access water supplies, whilst crews are dealing with incidents such as this they are unable to attend other call outs which may be life threatening. On the first call out on 12th March we sent out a fire appliance Church Stretton and the Pinzgauer. a fire appliance from Craven Arms two appliance s from Shrewsbury, a water carrier from Bridgnorth and a pumping unit from Shrewsbury, plus three officers. On the second incident on 13th March we used a fire appliance from Church Stretton and the Pinzgauer. On 16th April we sent a fire appliance from Church Stretton the Pinzgauer from Craven Arms one appliance from Telford a 4x4 appliance from Tweedale, an appliance from Much Wenlock and two appliances from Shrewsbury plus three officers. The majority of staff attending these incidents were on call firefighters and the cost to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service was £12,368.”

Anyone who notices any suspicious activity should notify the emergency services and the National Trust office on: 01694 725 004.

National Trust Press Release

22nd May, 2013