THE number of wildfires nearly doubled this year compared to last year.
Figures showed Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 594 fires on grassland, woodland or crops in May, June and July compared to 296 in the same period last year.
The investigation by Press Association showed it was the highest figure for the past five years. Of the 594 calls earlier this year to wildfires, 223 were recorded as deliberate with 184 seen as accidental.
The News covered dozens of fires in the open across the area including several at Browndown in Gosport and at Beachlands golf course on Hayling Island. Speaking at the time, firefighters said a number of the blazes at Browndown were deliberate.
The Fire Brigade Union warned they are under-funded, short-staffed and ill-equipped to deal with the increase, adding: ‘Wildfires represent another strain on the dwindling resources of fire services currently experiencing severe budget cuts.’