A FRESH plea to help avoid the ferocious open fires that devastated the county last summer has come from Bicester firefighters after the bank holiday.

The hottest Easter ever recorded across the UK brought barbecue weather, but also calls from Bicester Fire Station over open fire risks.

Crews were scrambled to tackle an abandoned fire in Kirtlington Quarry, a nature reserve near Bicester, and discovered many more potentially dangerous fires which hadn’t been stamped out properly.

It follows months of anguish last year when the team were called out relentlessly to Bicester and further afield for field fires caused both by the hot, dry weather and the careless acts of many people throwing away cigarettes or lighting open fires.

READ AGAIN: Tree set alight 'deliberately' leading to huge field fire in Bicester

A warning from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “In this dry weather spell, it takes very little for a small ember to set a much larger fire and this could have caused serious damage.”

Bicester Fire Station watch manager Pete Mackay said: “In this hot weather, whilst we all enjoy the benefits of being outdoors and socialising, it’s really important that fires are kept safe and controlled – several of these fires were simply left after use and had the full potential to spread and cause significant damage.

“We would urge everyone to enjoy the hot weather responsibly and not jeopardise the safety of others or the countryside and valuable resources to have to extinguish unnecessary fires.”

Several fires tore through fields, parks and sports areas in Bicester last year as the county lapped up soaring temperatures in the late summer heatwave.


Bicester Fire Station crew were flat out as they responded to up to five calls a day - in a period usually between one and three calls a day - as flames ravaged the countryside.

One of the most dramatic fires to rip through farmers' fields was in Upper Heyford, where video showed flames taking over the site and plumes of thick smoke billowing above.

It was quickly followed by 400 tonnes of landfill on fire, tackled by the Bicester fire crew in Finmere.

READ AGAIN: Another field goes up in flames as children ignore warnings

A field next to Bicester Leisure Centre was among the other believed to be targeted by mindless vandals, a discarded cigarette caused a field fire in Caversfield, two acres of parched land in Langford went up in flames and another fire at Ashgrove Farm in Ardley was also among the devastation.

Mr Mackay said it was a wider issue beyond just Bicester and the message from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service was that every year wildfires destroy thousands of acres of countryside and wildlife habitats.


It said some are started deliberately but most are through carelessness - cigarettes thrown from cars, or bottles of barbecues lefts behind after picnics.

A warning said: “The dry ground in the summer means there’s an added risk of a fire starting, but you should take care at all times of the year.”

For tips and details search for The Countryside Code on gov.uk