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Major incidents in Norfolk and Suffolk amid ‘unprecedented number of fires’

Fire services in Norfolk and Suffolk declared major incidents as crews battled multiple blazes sparked by tinder-dry conditions (Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service/PA)
Fire services in Norfolk and Suffolk declared major incidents as crews battled multiple blazes sparked by tinder-dry conditions (Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service/PA)

Major incidents were declared by fire services in Norfolk and Suffolk as crews battled multiple blazes, with some of them starting in fields and spreading to houses.

Both counties’ fire and rescue services moved to the status on Tuesday, as the all-time UK temperature record was broken and conditions were tinder-dry.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said on Tuesday evening that “all appliances are either committed to ongoing incidents or have been alerted to a state of stand-by for incoming calls”.

Firefighters in the county were called to more than 80 incidents on Tuesday, including one that started in a field in the village of Ashmanhaugh and spread to two homes.

In a further incident, a fire started in a field and spread to homes in the village of Ashill.

The service said: “Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service have declared a major incident due to the demands caused by ongoing incidents related to the current heatwave.

“Additional command, control and mobilising arrangements have been implemented to manage the increased volume of calls and incidents, and to ensure the best balance of available appliances across the county.

“While the incident is ongoing, we must prioritise resources and ask the public that they only contact Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service with emergency calls.”

Interim Chief Fire Officer Tim Edwards praised the “professionalism, commitment and sheer dedication” of firefighters.

He wrote on Twitter that the “devastation and loss experienced by so many” was “not forgotten”.

Summer weather July 19th 2022
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service attends to a grass fire in Ravenswood (Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service/PA)

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service also declared a major incident on Tuesday evening, and said it had been called to more than 60 incidents.

Of these, 38 were fires in the open, including large blazes in a field in the village of Campsea Ashe and at a park in Ipswich.

The service said it had “worked tirelessly” to respond to incidents quickly but had also provided assistance to neighbouring counties, including in Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk, and was “under immense pressure”.

A spokesman urged people not to have barbecues in open spaces and to dispose of litter, glass bottles and cigarettes properly.

Farmers were asked to store hay and straw away from other buildings, especially those housing livestock or containing fuels and chemicals.

Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have seen an unprecedented number of fires as a result of the hot weather in Suffolk, which has caused grassland to burn quickly.

“Our forward planning has allowed us to respond efficiently and effectively to these incidents and I would like to thank all Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service colleagues for working tirelessly to make sure that we can continue to protect our county’s communities, as well as the employers of our on-call firefighters who have greatly helped our efforts by releasing their staff to help us.

“Unfortunately, as with many other fire services across the country, we have been left with no option but to declare a major incident in recognition of the immense pressure that our service is under.

“This doesn’t mean that we aren’t still here to look after Suffolk, but I would ask that people be mindful and avoid any activity that could potentially start a fire to help reduce any further demand on our firefighters.”