People advised to take simple precautions due to ongoing fire on Salisbury Plain

People advised to take simple precautions due to ongoing fire on Salisbury Plain

Posted by LRF Manager

An update has been provided on the ongoing fire on Salisbury Plain, with residents in the affected areas being asked to take sensible precautions where they can to keep them as safe as possible from the smoke.

Smoke is being seen in a number of local areas including Salisbury and the surrounding areas, as well as the likes of Devizes and parts of Swindon.

A number of local agencies, including Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, UK Health Security Agency and Swindon Borough Council have met to discuss the fire and ensure local residents, schools and care homes have the information they need.

Although it could be challenging due to the warmer weather, people are being advised to do their best to avoid smoke and fumes where they can by closing windows, but where possible to make the most of any opportunities to increase ventilation when wind and other conditions allow.

People should stay hydrated as much as possible. Simple measures like closing curtains on rooms that face the sun can keep the temperature lower, which will be particularly advisable for those who don’t want to open their windows due to the smoke.

People in the affected areas are also asked to look in on any vulnerable neighbours and family to check they have everything they need.

Updates will also be sent to relevant local schools and care homes with the latest advice.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation, part of the MOD, who are managing the fire, released this update on social media just before 2pm today (12 July) – We are aware of a fire burning within the impact area on Salisbury Plain. No properties are at risk & and we are closely monitoring the situation. Training has been cancelled for today while the fire continues to burn on the northern/eastern edge of the training area. We recognise that smoke is causing concern for many local residents, and will continue to work with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue to manage the fire’s impact

Dr Michael Allum, Acting Public Health Consultant in Health Protection at Wiltshire Council, said:

We know the smoke will be concerning for those in the areas affected, particularly as the ongoing warm weather can make it uncomfortable when windows are shut. Simple measures and precautions like keeping hydrated, and closing the curtains on sun drenched rooms is advisable to keep people comfortable, and if people feel their local area has some respite from the smoke they can open the windows to let some air in.

If people feel they need any specific health advice related to this, they should call 111.

Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health at Swindon Borough Council, said:

Many residents in Swindon will have woken up to smoke from the fire on Salisbury Plain overnight. The situation has improved throughout the day and the weather conditions are expected to keep most of the smoke away from Swindon for the remainder of the week.

However, temperatures continue to be very high and we would strongly encourage people to take extra precautions, particularly the vulnerable members of our community. We would encourage people to avoid being out in the sun during the hottest part of the day (around midday) and to plan their day to avoid heavy activity during extreme heat.

If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen, and wear a hat and light clothing. Keep homes and workplaces as cool as possible. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. In the meantime we’ll keep in regular contact with our partners to ensure people can get access to the latest information.“

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service have provided an update at this page – Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service | Fires on Salisbury Plain

Advice from the UK Health Security Agency is:

Advice for those directly affected by smoke:

Smoke can irritate air passages, skin and eyes, resulting in coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain so individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, such as asthma, should carry any necessary medication or inhalers with them at all times and seek medical advice if their symptoms worsen, by contacting their GP or NHS 111

We are currently at heat health alert level 3 and it is important that you protect yourself from the smoke, whilst also keeping cool. We recommend that residents:

  • avoid areas affected by smoke from this large-scale wildfire
  • stay indoors, keep your doors and windows closed, tune in to local radio station for advice and information if there is visible smoke from your property
  • draw curtains to limit direct sunlight heating-up internal surfaces
  • use fans to recirculate air within the house to help keep cool
  • take a break from the heat by moving to a cooler part of the house (especially for sleeping)
  • wear lighter clothing
  • keep hydrated with cool drinks
  • check that central heating, lights and electrical equipment not in use are turned off
  • set any air conditioning (preferably fitted with a HEPA filter) to recirculate mode
  • open windows that are on the opposite side to the plume/smoke (when it is safe to do so), and when the air feels cooler outside than inside to get air flowing through the home, for example, at night
  • once the smoke has moved away, consider opening doors and windows to allow properties to cool down, being mindful of changing conditions and be aware that the smoke could return
  • If driving in smoky areas keep your windows wound up, air vents closed and switch off air conditioning systems to prevent drawing in outside air

Whilst causing short-term poor air quality, exposure to smoke from large-scale wildfires is unlikely to contribute to any long-term health effects. Any long-term risk to health from poor air quality will be based upon lifetime exposure, rather than the short-term acute exposure from this large-scale wildfire