Firefighters are pleading with Northamptonshire folk not to destroy the great outdoors as temperatures hit 20 °C-plus today and tomorrow.
Gauges at the Met Office weather station at Pitsford, just outside, recorded 20.1 °C just after 1pm — just short of the top March temperature of 20.4 °C set on March 30 four years ago.
The county's fire service answered two shouts to reports of burning disposable barbecues last night (Monday) and are braced for more as people head outdoors on day two of lockdown restrictions easing.
One discarded barbecue caused damage in Northampton while the other turned out to be a 999 call from a concerned resident in Weedon who saw smoke from a barbecue billowing over a field.
Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue's prevention team leader, Darren Carson, said: “After a long period of lockdown and restrictions being lifted slightly, we are all eager to meet up with family and friends outdoors.
"Whilst we should still be socially distancing, we also want you to be barbecue safe.
“Just following a few simple guidelines, can help prevent incidents and avoids risking the safety of others or that of the environment and wildlife.
"The Fire Service have already attended a few barbecue related incidents, so please remember that outdoor fires can spread quickly and easily, especially during periods of warm, dry weather.”
The latest step on the government's roadmap out of lockdown allows people to meet up in groups of up to six or two households — while maintaining social distancing from anybody you do not live with.
Yesterday's easing of restrictions coincided with the start of school holidays for many and forecasts of record-breaking March temperatures. Firefighters advice is:
■ Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue or any cooking!
■ Make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.
■ Never leave a barbecue or any cooking unattended.
■ Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies.
■ Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
■ Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue; use only recognised lighters or starter fuels on coal.
■ Ensure the BBQ is fully extinguished and cold before emptying ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins.
■ Keep children and animals away from the BBQ.