EMERGENCY services in Cheshire have welcomed the news by high street chains they will be banning sales of disposable barbecues.

Marks and Spencer has joined Aldi and the Co-op in removing disposable barbeques from shelves over wildfire concerns.

The store announced: At M&S we want to help protect open spaces and reduce the risk of fires. 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 news has been welcomed by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, which says it has been called out to 25 fires in between April and July involving disposable barbecues.

Across the three days of the heatwave in July, there was a significant increase in demand for firefighters, with more than 177 incidents attended.

The fire service added the unprecedented heatwave created complex and demanding situations right across the county, with several large-scale incidents occurring within a short space of time including a farm fire near Frodsham, a major incident in Middlewich and significant weather-related fires at Rixton, Mow Cop and Delamere Forest.

Resources were further stretched because of smaller scale, often avoidable, incidents such as fires caused by discarded disposable barbecues or deliberately ignited nuisance fires.

The Service’s head of prevention and protection, area manager Lee Shears, said: “While it is uncommon for us to be called out to several large-scale incidents within a short space of time, sadly it isn’t uncommon for us to be called to deal with grass and woodland fires caused by people not taking enough care in the countryside.

"We have seen an increasing number of these fires being started because the safe use, extinguishing and removal of disposable barbecues is not fully considered.

“The decision to not stock these items by Marks and Spencer and, indeed, Aldi who made their announcement in March, is extremely welcomed not only by us but by other fire and rescue services across the UK.”

Also backing the decision was the Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team, with Sgt Rob Simpson saying he had seen the damage caused by disposable barbecues "time and time again", used in places without permission.

He added: "The fires put the wider public at risk and certainly the emergency services who spend hours sorting it out. There's also an impact on habitat and wildlife too.

"No one walks into the countryside with the intention of lighting it and taking it home. They're too hot to handle and even if you put them out, the mess left behind is unlikely to be packed into your bag and walked out."