PEOPLE are being urged to avoid lighting bonfires during the coronavirus pandemic.

The council is urging households to temporarily store any excess waste until the government restrictions are lifted and they can then take it to the Household Waste Recycling Centre or use a licensed waste carrier. 

Bonfires are not illegal but it is an offence to burn materials including household waste, DIY waste, plastics and treated wood. Many of these materials produce toxic smoke.

Fire crews have been called out to attend out-of-control bonfires which have caused damage to properties. Attending these incidents wastes the time of key frontline workers and potentially exposes them to coronavirus.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Glyn Moody said: “Wherever possible, we would prefer people not to have bonfires at this time.

“We do fully appreciate that it’s the ideal time to get out in the garden, but bonfires can get out of control very easily, which pulls our crews from other vital work in the community and puts firefighters at risk of exposing themselves to coronavirus.

“If you must have a bonfire, please site it well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures, and stay in attendance at all times with a garden hose to hand.”

Swindon Borough Council will be investigating reports of people lighting nuisance bonfires and will prosecute if necessary. It is hoped this will deter people from lighting bonfires and help protect people who may be affected by bonfire smoke.

Coun Cathy Martyn said: “Please be considerate of the people who live nearby. By lighting bonfires we can unintentionally cause a lot of upset and distress, not just to our immediate neighbours who might be enjoying their gardens during this very difficult time, but across a wider area where we live.

“The smoke can cause problems for anyone who has breathing difficulties, including those suffering from Covid-19, and many people need to keep a window open so they have a connection with the outside world.

“Our environmental health officers are proactively investigating reports of bonfires which may result in enforcement. So, please avoid burning anything during this period. Please keep hold of any waste until the tip reopens and you can take it there to be recycled. If you would like advice on how best to deal with additional waste or anyone who has concerns about bonfires, please visit the council’s website or, if you don’t have internet access, please call us.”

Visit or call 01793 445500.