A SPATE of fires have hit Hampshire which appear to have been started by barbecues.

Now, firefighters are warning the public to avoid lighting fires or barbecues in a bid to protect wildlife.

Amongst the multiple fires include a small log smouldering at Parkway in Whiteley at 12.10pm on Thursday, and another at 12.52pm, when crews were called to a smouldering bonfire at Church Road in Warsash.

Firefighters received several calls in the same day, including a 12.40pm call to a barbecue which had spread to the grass on Southsea Esplanade, Portsmouth.

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Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Wildfire Tactical Advisor Dean Hodges said: “The recent spate of dry weather has led to a higher risk of wildfires that’s not often experienced in the UK, so it’s vital for everybody to stay alert and report any incidents as soon as possible.

"We urge members of our community to avoid using barbecues and lighting fires of any kind and always ensure cigarettes are safely extinguished.

"If you see a fire, get to a place of safety and call 999 immediately so we can put it out before it does significant damage to the countryside we all enjoy.”

While Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager for Community Safety Support Gina Gray said has also spoken out in a bid to prevent wildfires.

She said: “We urge the public to play their part in helping us to prevent devastating wildfires. We want to avoid incidents of this kind at all costs, to protect our community, precious nature sites and wildlife.

"If everybody follows the guidance and helps us limit the risk of wildfires, our firefighters can spend their valuable time, supporting our community as well as other emergency services during this challenging time.”

They emphasised that barbecues continue to remain banned in the New Forest area.

For more safety advice, visit www.hantsfire.gov.uk/keeping-safe/atleisure/bbq.