Carn Brea fire damage

A fire started by a disposable barbecue caused long term damage to the habitat at Carn Brea, with the ground in the worst affected areas expected to take many years to recover.

Around 7 hectares of gorse, heather and bilberry were destroyed following the fire on the northern side of Carn Brea hill last week. As the blaze spread across the local landmark, more than 200 calls were received by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s Control Room and at the height of the incident, five appliances – from Camborne Pool and Redruth, Hayle and Helston fire stations – were on the scene tackling the blaze.

The Council and fire service are now repeating pleas for people to take care when using disposable barbecues.

Station Manager Nathaniel Hooton from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It is thanks to the swift actions of Fire Control in mobilising appliances and the hard work and professionalism of the responding crews that the fire did not spread further and this incident was brought to a safe conclusion.

“This incident highlights the importance of taking great care when using disposable barbecues – as we have seen, fire can quickly spread with devastating results. Please take care and follow our safety advice.”

“In terms of damage to wildlife, this is about the worst time of year for this fire to happen,” said Jon James, Cornwall Council’s Environment Manager.

“Nesting birds, small mammals, reptiles and insects are all very active in the spring and early summer and will have all been directly harmed by the fire as it spread so quickly through the dry vegetation. There is also long term damage to the habitat – with the ground being relatively dry at this time of year the fire has burned quite deeply in places and the ground will take many years to recover.”

If you are using a disposable barbecue, here are some safety tips:

  • Never leave a barbecue unattended.
  • Follow the safety instructions provided.
  • Always keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies.
  • Never use a barbecue indoors.
  • Make sure it is placed on level ground where it will not tip over.
  • Never place the barbecue on a flammable surface – the foil base becomes very hot.
  • Use the stand provided and make sure the base is several inches above the surface.
  • Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.
  • Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue.
  • Leave the barbecue to cool before attempting to move it – this may take several hours.
  • Fully extinguish the barbecue by pouring plenty of water or sand onto it, making sure the coals are fully covered.
  • Do not place a disposable barbecue in a rubbish bin until it has cooled down properly.

More safety advice is available on Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s fire safety pages