skip to content

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Controlled Burn Runs Out of Control

08/05/2013

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are appealing to people to think before attempting to carry out controlled burning after an incident in Cloudside this afternoon.

"This incident shows how quickly what began as a controlled burn turned into an uncontrolled fire, tying up valuable fire service resources..."

Mick Daniels, Station Manager

Twenty firefighters from Biddulph, Leek and Congleton attended a blaze in Cloudside Road after a resident lit material in a metal bin which then set fire to surrounding vegetation. The fire spread rapidly uphill and about an acre of shrub and grass land was destroyed.

Mick Daniels, Station Manager, said: “The occupier was using a metal bin but unfortunately it was placed too close to dry vegetation which was ignited by heat given off from the container.

“This incident shows how quickly what began as a controlled burn turned into an uncontrolled fire, tying up valuable fire service resources. At one point there were 20 firefighters at the scene, including a crew sent from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. Access to the fire was difficult due to the steepness of the hillside and we had to tackle it from both above and below using a main jet and hose reel jet.

“Fortunately, stone walls formed natural fire breaks and prevented the fire from spreading further.

“We urge anyone considering starting a controlled burn to think before they act, especially since we have had a spell of dry weather and vegetation is dry. Even vegetation that looks green can set light quickly as the undergrowth can be very dry. You may end up burning far more than was intended and risking both your own and firefighters’ lives as well as property.

“If firefighters are tied up for long periods dealing with such fires then they are not available to attend genuine emergencies which could result in a delay in reaching someone trapped in a house fire or car crash.

“It also means we are unable to carry out important prevention work in the community such as installing smoke alarms in the homes of vulnerable and elderly people.” 

He explained that vegetation fires can easily burn underground and can continue to burn for a very long time meaning firefighters staying at the scene for hours, sometimes days, to monitor and extinguish hotspots.

The cause of the fire was accidental and firefighters eventually left the scene shortly before 3pm.