Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is urging members of the public to take care during this current spell of dry weather as the risk of wild fires in the countryside grows.

Group Manager Steve Law said: “We have had unusually warm weather for March and we’re now going into the Easter holiday period, when families are more likely to be outdoors.

"We want local people to be safe, so we are asking everyone to be vigilant and follow a few simple steps to reduce the chances of wildfire.”

The Service advice is:

• Extinguish cigarettes properly – and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows.

• Take your rubbish with you, especially glass bottles, as these can magnify the sun's rays and start a fire as well as hurt people and animals.

• Avoid open fires in the countryside. Always have them in safe designated areas.

• If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Early detection can prevent fires from developing into large scale incidents.

• Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – call 999 and leave the area as quickly as possible.

• Remember that arson is a crime and will be prosecuted.

Landowners and land managers are also advised, where possible, to ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.

The fire and rescue service has also issued advice about barbecues and bonfires. They advise:

• Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area, and never leave them unattended.

• Never use petrol to light barbecues or bonfires, as it can ignite quickly and soon get out of control. Only use approved lighting fuels.

• Make sure fires are downwind and at least ten metres away from any buildings or structures.

• Clear away dry vegetation, such as leaves, from around the fire to form a circle of earth.

• Never leave fires unattended and make sure they are fully extinguished after use.

For further fire safety advice, visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk