What to do if you discover a wildfire

Posted on Posted in Staying Safe
What to do if you discover a wildfire - image 800px-2018_Boothtown_wildfire on https://www.wild-survivor.co.uk
Firefighters tackling a wildfire in Boothtown, Halifax, West Yorkshire on 1 July 2018. Image: Wikipedia / Buttons0603 

Wildfires, also known as gorse fires, heath fires or countryside fires, are an increasingly common problem across the UK. They can be extremely destructive and have a devastating effect on natural habitats, as well as residential properties. The Saddleworth Moor fire that broke out in June 2018 burned for 3 weeks and almost 100 soldiers were drafted in to help firefighters from across the region to tackle it at its height. At its peak the huge fire covered an area of 7 sq miles (18 sq km) of moorland. The effects on local wildlife, communities and the economy are still painfully fresh. In 2018, a vast fire on the Llantysilio mountain between Llangollen and Wrexham led to the closure of the iconic Horseshoe Pass, along with local businesses which were required to evacuate. So how can you prevent wildfires from starting and what should you do if you discover one? Read on to learn more.

Don’t be the firestarter


If you are an avid outdoor person, ensuring that you are not responsible for starting – directly or indirectly – a wildfire should be high up on your list of priorities. The most obvious way to prevent fires from starting is not to start one yourself. This means that if you do require a fire or any other naked flame whilst in the countryside, take extreme precautions. Only light a fire in a designated safe area and ensure that they are properly extinguished as soon as they are no longer required. When putting a fire out, take care not to send ashes or embers flying.


Don’t not smoke outside of your vehicle, and ensure all cigarettes and smoking materials are fully extinguished and left within the vehicle. A carelessly discarded cigarette end can have terrible consequences.


Bottles and other glass objects can easily start a fire on gorseland or woodland as a result of sunlight shining through them. Never leave glass bottles in the countryside, and if you do come across discarded bottles, pick them up and dispose of them properly wherever possible.

If you find a fire

Don’t try to put it out yourself

If you come across a fire in the countryside, you are advised not to try to tackle it yourself. Be aware that a bucket of water is often ineffective on an outdoor fire, and even if you think it has gone out it may not be fully extinguished, meaning there is a risk it may reignite at a later stage.

Call the Fire Brigade

Always report a fire immediately by calling the Fire Brigade on 999. If there are any wardens, rangers etc. visible in the vicinity, then also inform them.

Leave the area immediately

In dry conditions, wildfires can grow and spread through undergrowth extremely quickly. As they become more developed, wildfires create their own wind, which drives them at speeds faster than people can get out of their way. Tell any other people in the area to leave because of fire too.

Know your location

Ensure that you know your location or a landmark so you can direct the fire service. Remember, they will not be able to get a precise location by tracking your mobile phone so don’t assume that your phone call will be enough. Coordinates may be helpful, but don’t put yourself at risk if this takes you time. If there is any building nearby that has a landline telephone, this may help the fire service to obtain a more accurate location.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.