FIREFIGHTERS are urging people not to light campfires in the countryside after they had to attend an incident in Deneholme Woods in Allendale this week.

Just before 3.30pm on Monday, an Allendale fire crew member received a call from a member of the retained crew who said he believed he could see smoke coming from the woods.

On closer inspection he spotted that an area of undergrowth and trees were alight.

The incident was reported to Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service control and the full Allendale crew were called out to deal with the fire, where they found an unattended campfire out of control.

Dave Stevenson, from Allendale Community Fire Station, said: “We attended the scene and were able to deploy two crew members with firefighting equipment down the steep embankment to the seat of the fire where we were quickly able to contain and then extinguish the fire.

“The area affected was approximately three meters by four meters and also involved four established trees that had sustained burn damage to a height of around two meters.”

He added: “Examination of the scene showed that rocks had been placed on the ground in a circle to produce a campfire and there were remnants of a fire within that area.

“The ground is covered in a thick mat of pine needles and other debris from the woodland and it could be seen that the fire had travelled from the campfire, across this ground covering and up the embankment where it had taken to the trees as well.”

Now Mr Stevenson is urging people to be aware of the risks from campfires.

He said: “On this occasion we have been lucky that it was spotted and dealt with very quickly as a relatively minor incident, but they can escalate very quickly and soon become major incidents involving massive areas and many resources that have to be in attendance for several days.”

He said woodlands and fells are still very dry and there is a very high risk of wildfires across Northumberland.

“Our advice is not to have campfires or use disposable BBQ’s in the countryside and should you feel the need, to ensure that they are never left unattended and are completely out before leaving them,” Mr Stevenson said.

“Always make sure that you take any rubbish home with you, including BBQ’s, and dispose of them properly. If we all take simple precautions and think about our actions and the consequences, then maybe we can avoid such incidents.”