Fire at National Trust site in Norfolk caused by discarded barbecue

Morston Quay at its stunning best. Picture: Martin Sizeland

Morston Quay at its stunning best. Picture: Martin Sizeland - Credit: Martin Sizeland

A blaze at a National Trust site in north Norfolk is believed to have been caused by a discarded barbecue.

Disposable barbecue fire at Morston Quay. Picture: National Trust

Disposable barbecue fire at Morston Quay. Picture: National Trust - Credit: Archant

The trust is urging people not to bring a barbecue or light a campfire when they visit the coast and countryside this weekend.

It follows a spate of wildfires during lockdown, including a fire on May 19 at Morston.

A blaze engulfed an area of gorse approximately 50 metres by 20 metres which then had to be extinguished by the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service after a call from a visitor at approximately 9pm.

The area affected was part of Blakeney National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and was likely to have been home to nesting birds.

An inspection of the area by a National Trust ranger found a scorch mark in the shape of a disposable BBQ in the grass nearby, and then the remains of a BBQ were then found within the burnt gorse itself.

Rangers have reported a rise in people bringing barbecues to the countryside, as extended spells of good weather have coincided with the easing of lockdown restrictions.

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Many sites have also noticed an increase in litter, which not only blights the landscape and poses a threat to wildlife but can fuel wildfires.

Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation at the National Trust, said: “We know that people have missed the outdoors and open spaces these past few months, and we’re really pleased to be welcoming them back.

“But we’re urging people not to bring barbecues to the countryside or the coast. They can lead to real problems, particularly after such little rain in April and May.

“Many areas of land are still very dry and all it takes is a single spark from a barbecue or a dropped cigarette to cause a serious fire.

“Fires like these undermine our work to care for nature and respond to the climate emergency, which are priorities for the National Trust.

“Please think of others; think of the wildlife; think of our emergency services; and don’t bring barbecues to the beach or countryside.”

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