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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 August, 2003, 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK
Fire cover 'extremely stretched'
Grass fires which have broken out across Kent are stretching the resources of the county's firefighters.

Over 100 firefighters have been called out to tackle the fires on Wednesday, the hottest day of the year so far.

A spokesman for Kent Fire Brigade reported that woods, grass, undergrowth, stubble and corn fields were alight in Edenbridge, Ramsgate, Rochester, Gravesend, Ashford and Meopham.

One fire near Herne Bay had been alight for 26 hours by 1700 BST on Wednesday, with up to 50 firefighters in attendance.

Finite resources

A spokesman for Kent Fire Brigade said it could continue to burn for the next three days.

Station officer Ian Lambkin, of Kent Fire Brigade, said: "A number of fires have become excessively large due to the remote areas they are starting in.

"Obviously we only have a finite number of resources and these resources are being extremely stretched in these conditions."

He said most of the fires were caused by people's carelessness with cigarettes, barbecues and rubbish.

Hot climate

Kent Fire Brigade's Assistant Chief Fire Officer Bill Welsh said the situation was worse this year than normal.

He said: "We always expect a busy time when the children are on holiday and this time of year with the weather.

"But I think this week has caught us out a little bit - we weren't expecting such a hot climate."

He said the brigade was managing to cover all the call-outs but would struggle if they increased any further.

"We are hoping that the people that find it a fun thing to start fires suddenly realise the dangers of what they are doing," he said.

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