‘Challenging’ conditions for fire crews amid surge in demand in county

Fire in the open - Ramsey Heights

Fire in the open - Ramsey Heights - Credit: Archant

There were almost a dozen fires in Huntingdonshire in the past week as the hot weather continued to put pressure on firefighters.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was called to 11 fires in just seven days across the district, four of which were found to be arson attacks.

Eight of the total were field fires and most of them involved combine harvesters.

Ramsey, St Neots, Huntingdon, Yaxley and Caxton were among the areas affected by the fires.

Assistant chief fire officer Rick Hylton said: “The recent hot and dry weather has meant the ground conditions have allowed fires to spread quickly. Crews have faced fires affecting areas as large as 50 acres. The larger fires can often take significant resources and time to get under control and extinguish.

“Crews have faced gruelling conditions when tackling these fires. The combination of the hot weather, the heat from the fire and the physically demanding actions needed to beat the fire out is very draining, especially when the incident involves a large area. Our firefighters have all stood up to the challenge at each and every single fire they’ve attended.”

In June and July crews attended 551 fires in the open across the county, an increase of more than 50 per cent on last year. In July alone, crews attended 376 fires in the open in various places around the county.

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The service’s combined fire control has also seen a sharp increase in the amount of emergency calls received reporting incidents in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. Almost 4,000 calls were answered by emergency call handlers in June and July, an increase of 13 per cent for the same period last year.

Mr Hylton said: “This has been a very challenging couple of months for our staff. Crews have faced tough physical conditions and long hours tackling large field fires, while our emergency call handlers have been inundated with calls from two counties. “While it has been tough, our staff have all risen to the challenge admirably, showing their dedication to serving their communities, and I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone.”