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Wildfire fears prompt Marks & Spencer to stop selling disposable barbecues

·2-min read
Burnt fields and houses destroyed following a major fire in Wennington - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Burnt fields and houses destroyed following a major fire in Wennington - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Marks & Spencer has announced it will stop selling disposable barbecues at all of its UK stores, following widespread grassland fires during last month’s record heatwave.

The supermarket chain said that it wanted to do its part to help protect open spaces and reduce the risk of fires.

M&S tweeted: “We’d already stopped selling disposable barbecues near national parks and in London, but given the unusually hot and dry conditions, we’ve taken the precautionary step of removing them from sale across the UK.”

The decision was praised by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) as “good news”. The fire department is spearheading a campaign to ban disposable barbecues nationwide, and has called on members of the public to sign a petition to parliament to prohibit their sale and use.

Waitrose and Aldi have already announced they will no longer stock barbecues. The LFB has singled out other chains – including Morrisons, which still retails disposable barbecues at £2.50 – for not following suit.

London’s Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said disposable barbecues can cause “untold damage” when weather conditions are as hot and dry as they have been in recent weeks.

“Despite our grass fire warnings, we’ve still seen some people behaving carelessly and recklessly,” he said.

“On Saturday (23rd July) firefighters prevented a serious blaze at Wanstead Flats caused by using a disposable barbecue. We need urgent action now to see a national ban on the sale of disposable barbecues.”

The July dry spell has left grassland in “a tinderbox” state, the LFB added. New statistics from the department show the Brigade received 8,302 calls and responded to 3,231 incidents in the week commencing 19 July.

Around 90 families were evacuated from the village of Wennington, Essex, on 19 July after grass fires spread to the community and destroyed nine homes, while dozens of other buildings were severely damaged.

A total of 16 firefighters from LFB suffered heat-related injuries as they fought to quell the blazes, which also raged in other parts of the capital, including Dagenham and Kenton.

It came during a heatwave that saw Britain record its highest ever temperature. London's Heathrow Airport hit 40.2°C at about 12:50 p.m. on July 19.