Firefighters tackle spate of wildfires across south of Wales
A wildfire in south Wales has spread to an area the size of almost 300 football pitches as firefighters continue to tackle multiple blazes across the region.
The grass fire on the Rhigos Mountains, near Aberdare, began at about 6pm on Friday June 9, was reignited on Tuesday due to the hot weather and is ongoing, the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) said.
South Wales Police are investigating how the fire started and have appealed for witnesses or anyone with information to speak to officers.
Crews are also at a large fire in Blaengarw, a village near Bridgend, that began just before 6pm on Friday and is now affecting 10 hectares of land – an area the size of almost 20 football pitches.
They are also at several other fires, including one in Pantside near Newbridge in Newport that began at about noon on Friday, one in Pontycymmer in the Garw Valley that began at around 3pm on Tuesday, one in Tir-Phil in Caerphilly County that started at about 11am on Wednesday and one in Ogmore Vale that began just before 1pm on Thursday.
Another fire at Nantyffyllon in Maesteg which began just before 7pm on Friday is finally out after almost six days.
SWFRS said it has been “inundated” with reports of fires in recent weeks.
Between April 1 and June 11, firefighters are said to have responded to almost 400 deliberate grass and wildfires, with 75 calls made from June 5-11.
Fire service manager Matthew Jones said: “We have been working tirelessly with our partners to deal with several large deliberate wildfires across South Wales.
“These unnecessary fires have caused severe damage to the Welsh landscape, forestry and wildlife while placing the lives of our firefighters and the public at risk.
“Deliberate fire-setting is a crime and we would urge anyone with information to report this to the police or anonymously via Crimestoppers.”
Smoke from the Rhigos Mountain fire temporarily shut the A4061 road linking Bridgend to a part of the Rhondda Valley at 1pm on Wednesday.
Inspector Melanie Knight from South Wales Police said: “Wildfires pose a severe risk to our communities, wildlife and natural environment.
“Additionally, they place a considerable strain on the resources of emergency services.”
She urged “everyone to be careful ahead of the expected hot weather forecast for this weekend” and asked for “parents to take responsibility for their children and educate them on the dangers and consequences of deliberate fires”.
Gareth O’Shea from Natural Resources Wales said: “We will continue to work with the fire service to slow the spread of the current fires and safeguard the nearby communities and wildlife.
“Through working together across government, charities, landowners and our public services we can create a sustainable approach to preventing large scale wildfires, which is imperative in the face of a climate and nature emergency.”
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