Wiltshire fire chiefs are appealing to people not to have campfires or barbecues when out in the countryside this Easter – because of the heightened risk of starting a wildfire.

The fire service has issued an amber wildfire alert for the Easter weekend due to the weather forecast for warmer weather on Saturday and Sunday, meaning there is a higher-than-usual chance of a wildfire starting.

Fire chiefs warn: “Should such a fire happen, it could spread quickly and easily due to the warm, dry and breezy conditions. Wildfires take a great deal of resources and time to bring under control, and cause devastation to heath, woodland and wildlife.”

The service’s group manager, Dave Waters, said: “The combination of the long Easter weekend and good weather means that people will be out and about a lot more, and we want to be sure that the local area stays as safe as it can be for everyone.

“If you’re visiting our heathlands, woodlands or countryside, please avoid having a campfire and take a picnic rather than use a disposable barbecue – these are just a few simple steps can make a real difference to preventing fire from starting.”

He added: “We’d also remind people to take care if having a barbecue or bonfire at home. All too often, we see property destroyed when an initially small fire suddenly gets out of control. Never leave a bonfire or barbecue unattended, and site them well away from fences, trees or buildings.”

The fire service has also issued a series of fire safety tips for Easter:

• Extinguish cigarettes properly, don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – and take your litter home.

• If you see a fire in the countryside, call 999 and report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Please provide as much detail as possible about location and access, but also make sure you are in a safe place.

• Landowners and land managers are advised to be prepared for fires, where possible, and ensure that fire breaks are cut and well maintained, with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.

• If you’re having a bonfire at home, have a garden hose to hand in case it starts to get out of control, and never use petrol or another accelerant to get it started.

• Barbecue coals stay hot for hours, so douse them with water and don’t dispose of them in a plastic wheelie bin until you can be absolutely sure they are cold.