Councils across the country have issued warnings to residents about the dangers of burning waste following a spate of incidents.
This comes as some residents have been reportedly setting fire to rubbish, particularly green waste, as collections are halted and recycling centres closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it was called out to fires caused by people burning waste in their gardens (see below).
Dorset council on Friday, March 27, had asked residents not to burn garden waste due to fears it could harm people suffering from the coronavirus, expressing concern smoke may exacerbate respiratory problems
Dorset suspended all garden waste kerbside collection until further notice to prioritise rubbish, food waste and recycling collections during the pandemic.
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Ian Jeary said: “With garden waste collections suspended and local household recycling centres closed, we are starting to see an increase in garden bonfires getting out of control.
“Please consider if you must burn garden waste. Any bonfire should be sited well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures, and have a garden hose to hand in case the fire starts to accelerate.”
South Derbyshire district council’s environmental health division echoed the plea to residents not to burn waste, noting an increase in complaints about people burning waste in the last few days.
“Household waste should not be burned at all; if you do you are committing an offence and could be prosecuted”
A spokesperson for the environmental health team said: “We have seen a significant increase in the number of complaints regarding burning waste. With large numbers of residents currently stuck inside their homes self-isolating, the ability to use garden amenity areas and get clean fresh air into our houses is very important.
“We are therefore asking South Derbyshire residents and businesses to refrain from burning, at least for the time being, whilst we are trying to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
“Household waste should not be burned at all; if you do you are committing an offence and could be prosecuted.”
The spokesperson said composting or recycling waste was better where possible.
And, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service reported a spate of incidents over the weekend involving people burning rubbish in their gardens after recycling centres closed.
Firefighters in Wigan were reportedly called to two separate fires involving waste at the weekend.
Wigan, which is served by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, closed its HWRCs until further notice last week.
However, Wigan council’s waste collection services are running as normal and senior firefighters called on residents not to panic, noting burning rubbish was not necessary.