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London lockdown leads to year-on-year spike in number of outdoor fires

28 April 2020

FIREFIGHTERS HAVE witnessed a spike in bonfires as Londoners take to burning waste at home during the Coronavirus lockdown. New figures released by the London Fire Brigade show there has been a 7.4% increase in outdoor fires in the last four weeks compared to the same period last year.

London fire crews have attended 844 outdoor fires during those weeks compared with 786 in 2019. The largest number of outdoor fires occurred in the second and third week of lockdown, which coincided with the warmer weather.

Richard Mills, the Brigade’s deputy commissioner and director of operational delivery and assurance, said: “Our call records indicate that the increase in outdoor fires was in bonfire-related activity which suggests people are burning garden and household waste. This is likely to be because, with more time at home, there has been more spring cleaning and those with gardens have had the first opportunity of the year to tidy up.”

Mills continued: “Changes to bin collections in some London Boroughs, and given that many waste and recycling centres are shut, mean it’s looking like more people are taking to burning their excess rubbish. We would urge them to consider if their bonfire is necessary and to take care if they're burning waste at home.”

Further, Mills stressed: “Always check local authority advice on bonfires and follow the Brigade's safety tips such as never using paraffin or petrol, building any bonfires well clear of sheds and fences as well as main structures and never leaving bonfires unattended.”

Smoke can be dangerous for those suffering from respiratory problems induced by COPD, asthma or COVID-19.