A 'very high' risk of wildfire is in place across Essex next week, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has warned.

As public lockdown restrictions continue to be eased amid the coronavirus pandemic, residents have been warned to exercise extreme caution and take action to lower the risk of wildfires breaking out.

Assistant Chief Officer Moira Bruin said: “We appreciate many people are beginning to enjoy more time outside as they start to meet up with friends and family in outdoor spaces.

“We have had very little rain over the past two months, and the Met Office is forecasting a high risk of wildfires in our county.

“Vast areas of countryside is tinder dry and has all of the ingredients for fire to take hold and spread.

“We’ve already seen some devastating wildfires in other parts of the county this year.

“We can all take easy steps to reduce the risk of a wildfire or outdoor fire starting, so please, exercise extreme caution and think twice before using anything involving a naked flame, such as disposable barbecues or campfire.

“Take all your rubbish with you when you go home - even sunlight shining through a glass bottle can cause a fire.

“Please also think about how you dispose of cigarettes and smoking materials - just one cigarette in a bush or dry leaves can start a fire.”

Landowners are advised to be prepared for fires and ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.

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