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Bonfire warning

Publication date:

Residents in St Albans District are urged to avoid burning garden waste and other material during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are concerns that gusts of smoke could impact on people who have fallen ill with the virus and are suffering breathing difficulties. People suffering other respiratory illnesses such as asthma could also be affected.

In addition, bonfires can result in calls to the emergency services, putting extra pressure on their resources during the public health emergency.

St Albans City and District Council has had complaints of a spate of bonfires from one residents’ association.

They are now reminding residents that bonfires are unnecessary as fortnightly garden waste collections are continuing as normal during the lockdown.

Moreover, waste can also be stored in a compost heap and used later when it has broken down to fertilise the garden.

With people staying at home during the lockdown, many are doing extra gardening and may be tempted to start bonfires to get rid of waste.

However, many people with Covid-19 symptoms are isolating at home and could be put at further risk by the smoke that is generated.

A smoky atmosphere can also inhibit other people from going outside for daily exercise and fresh air.

Bonfires often result in false alarms to the fire service or can become serious incidents if they get out of control.

Fire services across the country have been reporting a spike in bonfire callouts during the lockdown.

On one night alone this week, firefighters were called to one bonfire blaze in Hertfordshire and seven in neighbouring Bedfordshire.

Cllr Chris White, Council Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate and Environment, said:

With warmer weather and more people doing gardening, it is not surprising that some people are lighting up bonfires – probably quite unaware of the extra risks involved at this time.

We are asking them not to do so because bonfires can cause discomfort to neighbours, some of whom may be isolating at home and even struggling with Covid-19 symptoms. There is also the issue that bonfires can increase the workload of our hard-pressed emergency services.

I’m sure if residents become aware of these dangers, they will refrain from lighting bonfires and instead compost or use our green bins service. We are all in this together and have to look after each other.

Councillor Contact:
Councillor Chris White, Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate and Environment for St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 845300

Media contact: 
John McJannet,
Principal Communications Officer,
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727-296130