London: A couple barbecue right next to grass burned in wildfire

Couple pictured having a BBQ in front of wildfire burned grass Credit Google

The barbecue took place right in front of the grass burnt in the wildfire (Image: Google)

A picture has surfaced of a couple having a barbecue just meters from the scene of the fire.

The picture comes after temperatures hit an all-time high of more than 40C last week and flames spread across much of the UK, particularly in the east London.

Much of the wildfire prevention advice is to not host barbecues in public spaces, but the couple ignored the advice.

The couple were seen enjoying an outdoor barbecue at the south end of Millfields Park in Hackney, east London, on July 16 – where hours earlier the grassy area was ablaze.

Firefighters were called to tackle the blaze, which had left the ground charred and black. It took them an hour to put out the fire.

Although the cause of the fire is unknown, part of the park has been the victim of arson attacks in the past.

Millfields User Group, a group of local people who support the park, tweeted: “I can’t believe this…. South Millfields orchard was on fire this afternoon and tonight there is a couple barbecuing yards from the burnt grass.

Volunteers from the Tree Musketeers, a community group dedicated to planting and growing crops in Hackney’s parks, were devastated by the news.

In 2009 they planted 51 trees in the park, some of which were destroyed by the fire.

The volunteer group tweeted: “Orchard fire at South Millfields Park this afternoon. All the care and dedication to growing, planting and caring for these trees over many years can be undone in a few minutes by one person’s carelessness.’

According to Hackney Council’s website, barbecuing is not allowed at any of the council-run parks, which include Millfields.

The park consists of three large open spaces around Lea Bridge and Chatsworth Road.

This summer alone, London Fire Brigade have tackled more than 800 fires across the capital.

The service has warned that the extreme heat and lack of rain is causing the grass to dry out and leaving the parkland vulnerable to fires.

At the time of the extreme heat, the London Fire Brigade offered some fire safety advice to help prevent wildfires.

LFB Deputy Commissioner Pat Goulbourne said: “Ensure rubbish, particularly glass, is thrown away safely and cigarettes are always disposed of properly. The grass will be bone dry after such hot weather, so please do not grill in parks and public places.

“Abandoned single-use barbecues can still cause a fire as hot coals smolder and pose a real fire hazard for some time after the flames have gone out – they must be extinguished and cooled immediately before they can be safely disposed of.

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“We also ask people not to grill on balconies. It’s easier than you might think for a balcony fire to spread to others, which could not only leave you homeless but also displace hundreds of your neighbors.”

He continued: “People will want to cool off but don’t dive into open water as it’s colder than it looks.

“There is a risk of cold water shock which can cause your body to go into shock no matter how fit you are. It causes panic, anxiety, disorientation and loss of muscle control, causing you to gasp and inhale water as a result. Instead of fighting, follow RNLI advice and “float to live”.

“In this extreme heat please keep an eye out for vulnerable neighbors and family members and ensure you are staying hydrated.”

A Hackney Council spokesman told “Barbecues are not permitted in our parks, a policy we reiterate in hot weather when they pose an acute fire risk.”

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Justin Scacco

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