A RASH of fires in the open have been reported across Herefordshire and Worcestershire since lockdown was imposed, firefighters say.

Crews have been called out to 20 of these incidents in the past week alone.

"Even given the current spell of dry weather, this is rather more than might have been expected," the fire service said.

And it’s not a problem which is confined to one area as the calls have been spread all across the Service region, from Bodenham to Bewdley to Bromsgrove.

The warning has been echoed by police on patrol in Herefordshire today (Thursday), after they received reports that people were camping out in the woods at Sutton Walls.

Officers said they would be conducting regular patrols at the north Herefordshire Iron Age hillfort site to dissuade campers and to cut the risk of fires spreading.

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“We understand that during the current lockdown, people will be looking for things to do and will be tidying up around their homes and gardens,” said Group Commander Mick Cadman of the HWFRS Community Risk Department.

“However, with recycling centres closed, we would ask people to be especially vigilant and careful if they feel that they need to have a bonfire to burn garden waste. These should be sited well away from buildings, fences and trees.

“The current dry spell of weather is adding to the risk of these fires spreading and getting out of control.

“In addition, the fumes from such fires may add to the respiratory difficulties of those suffering from the coronavirus.”

Photo: Hereford SNTs