Surrey Fire and Rescue Service dealt with 553 wildfires in Surrey last year – spending more than 13,000 hours attending wildfire incidents, almost double the year prior.

Wetter winters and warmer summers allow plants to grow earlier in spring and provide more fuel for potential wildfires. This increases the chance of wildfires starting and the impact they cause on wildlife and property.

Surrey Fire and Rescue new "state of the art drones"
Surrey Fire and Rescue are using drones to help combat wildfires (Surrey Fire and Rescue)

Wildfires are a common occurrence in Surrey because of its large areas of heathland.

Marli Holland, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s rural affairs officer, said: “Wildfires are a threat to homes, businesses, and precious habitats, and it takes years for the land to recover.

“As part of our work to prevent and tackle wildfires, we’ve been spreading the word with partners, and encouraging everyone in our communities to take steps to reduce the risk of wildfires.”

The fire service advises people to avoid having camping stoves or open fires in the countryside, dispose of smoking materials properly, put your rubbish in the bin or take it home with you and cut down or clear areas of vegetation.

Area effected by Surrey Wildfires taken by Drone
(Surrey Fire and Rescue)

Surrey Wildlife Trust's director of reserves management, James Herd, said: "There's little doubt that as our climate warms, wildfires are an increasing risk to people and wildlife – with recent fires on Chobham Common and Pirbright Ranges alone having done huge damage to important habitats for vulnerable species like Dartford Warblers, Nightjars and Sand Lizards. "Like the fire and rescue service, Surrey Wildlife Trust is on the front line in protecting our landscapes and we depend on the good conduct of local residents and visitors to our county.

“It's vital that people dispose of smoking equipment with great care and refrain from using disposable barbecues or dropping any litter when visiting our reserves. A simple act of carelessness can have appalling consequences for our most precious places.”