Portsmouth dad explains how park visitors tackled Southsea blaze this afternoon

A DAD who helped contain a fire along the seafront today has spoken about the dangers of barbecue fires.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 4:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 5:28 pm

Earlier today, a fire broke out at Canoe Lake in Southsea, which had been started by a barbecue.

For many miles, smoke could be seen rising from the seafront, as flames spread across the dry grass.

But members of the public who had been out enjoying the sunshine rushed to tackle the blaze, using anything and everything they could.

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A man uses a fire extinguisher to fight the fire near Canoe Lake as people fill buckets of water to help quell the flames. Picture by Colin Farmery

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Firefighters tackle blaze at Canoe Lake as people use buckets of water to fight ...

One of those people was Daryl Cooper, 32, from Cosham.

He said: ‘I was in the park with my daughter when I saw the flames, so left her with a friend and jumped over the fence to help.

‘People were using anything they could find – from crabbing buckets to water bottles, just to try and keep it under control.

‘We were all running to and from the lake to get more water. My chest was pounding, I’ve never run so much in my life.’

Park visitors fought the fire for around 10 minutes before crews from Southsea Fire Station arrived on the scene.

Because the grass was so dry, the flames kept coming back despite people’s best efforts.

Daryl said: ‘It was all so surreal, but it was also nice to see everyone doing their bit to help out.

‘But it just goes to show how dangerous these barbecues can be.’

His wife Emily said everyone who fought the fire today is a ‘hero’.

The couple had gone to the park with children Minnie and Eden to celebrate the end of the school year.

According to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, crews from Southsea were called at 12.40pm. Firefighters used a hose reel jet to dampen down the 30m by 50m patch of grass, staying at the scene until 1.13pm.

The service’s wildfire tactical advisor Dean Hodges said: ‘The recent spate of dry weather has led to a higher risk of wildfires that’s not often experienced in the UK, so it’s vital for everybody to stay alert and report any incidents as soon as possible.

‘We urge members of our community to avoid using barbecues and lighting fires of any kind and always ensure cigarettes are safely extinguished.’

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