An amber wildfire alert has been issued by the fire service for Dorset and Wiltshire.

The warm, dry weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend and into next week has led the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) to issue this alert last Saturday (May 20).

The alert runs until this coming Saturday (May 27) - although the service has warned that it may be extended.

DWFRS is urging farmers and landowners to be prepared for fires, where possible, by making sure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained, and removing cut grasses and vegetation from the site.

An amber alert means that, should a wildfire be experienced, it could spread quickly and easily due to the dry conditions - as the major fire on Studland Heath last year showed.

DWFRS's group manager, Graham Kewley, said: “While the warm, dry weather forecast for the coming days is most welcome, especially with the bank holiday and half term, it does significantly increase the risk of wildfire.

"Disposable barbecues left behind while still hot and campfires that aren’t extinguished properly are common causes of fires in the open, so we would urge people not to use these while out and about in our beautiful countryside.”

Disposable barbecues and campfires are banned on heathland, in forests and in many other high-risk areas across Dorset, including at Wareham Forest.

The service is urging people to bring picnics instead, with a social media campaign called #BringAPicnicNotABBQ.

Andy Elliott, the service’s wildfire tactical adviser, said: “Dealing with wildfires is incredibly resource-intensive, and can take days – and sometimes even weeks – to bring under control.

"This means they are also costly, and yet they can be prevented if the people enjoying our heaths and woodlands heed the warnings and take care.”