People defend couple who banned barbecue at wildfire site

The couple at the BBQ with some comments supporting them

Many people seem to support crickets where there is a risk of grass fire (Image: @MillfieldsUG/

The story of a couple who decided to have a barbecue on the site of a large grass fire that had only just been put out has understandably garnered a lot of attention.

We reported that yesterday Volunteers caring for Millfields Park in Hackney were angered to see the pair ignoring the rule banning crickets in tinderbox conditions.

But it seems many Metro readers disagree, as many people on Facebook commented below the story to say they didn’t see anything wrong with their actions.

“So no problem with the adults not knowing what they’re doing [sic]’ commented one woman.

Another claimed, “I’m sure if the authorities told some people to stop breathing, they would.”

Another said: “If the grass is already burned it should be pretty safe.”

In response, some pointed out that the grass they were barbecuing on in London was actually not burned, so they risked re-igniting the fire and letting it spread in a different direction.

Others said that many fires are actually started by adults who “don’t know what they’re doing,” such as people dropping cigarettes or even using grills — so they’re in many community parks and a lot hot weather prohibited .

“Many wildfires are started by adults who don’t use their common sense and start fires with BBQs, drop matches, attend gender reveal gifts, and so on,” wrote one woman.

“Some adults really don’t know what they’re doing, which is why things go wrong.”

Although it is not known what caused the July 16 fire, the portion of the park has been the victim of arson attacks in the past, and due to the heat wave, the latest fire spread quickly.

Regardless of the weather, barbecues are banned at all Hackney council parks, including Millfields.

A volunteer group called Millfields User Group shared the photo in a tweet after the fire, which was deleted just hours before the picture was taken.

They said, “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.

Meanwhile, local volunteer group Tree Musketeers shared images of firefighters putting out the blazes, saying: “All the care and dedication that has gone into growing, planting and tending these trees over many years can be done in minutes by the carelessness of a person can be erased.”

This summer alone, London Fire Brigade have tackled more than 800 fires across the capital, with parklands being particularly at risk.

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.”

A Hackney Council spokesman said: “Barbecues are not permitted in our parks, guidance we repeat in hot weather when they pose an acute fire risk.”

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Justin Scacco

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