DO NOT light fires or use barbecues in the countryside, as they can cause a wildfire that could take days to extinguish.

The county’s wildfire risk has been rated “very high” by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and the Met Office’s Fire Severity Index.

The dry spring means many heathlands are tinder dry, so will catch fire from the tiniest hot ember or spark.

There have already been major wildfires this year on Ash Ranges and Frensham Common. Precious heathland habitats were destroyed in both cases, and ignition by barbecues and careless lighting of camp fires has not been ruled out as the causes.

And many people will recall the major incident on Chobham Common in the summer of 2020, when dozens of firefighters from several brigades were tied up for nearly a week tackling the flames and putting out hotspots. It was the biggest fire on the common since the drought year of 1976 – and might have been started by a discarded cigarette end on the neighbouring Sunningdale Golf Course.

Surrey contains much of the UK’s remaining lowland heath, which is home to rare wildlife species found on few other sites in the country. They includes reptiles such as the smooth snake and sand lizard, and birds such as the Dartford warbler and nightjar.

The advice to people who visit our precious countryside is: 

Take a picnic, not a barbecue, disposable or otherwise.

Do not light campfires, unless it’s in an authorised location.

Extinguish cigarettes or matches properly, and never throw them on to the ground.

Take litter home, as discarded glass bottles can cause fires.

If you spot a wildfire, make sure you are safe and call 999 and ask for the fire service.