A WARNING has been issued by Essex's fire service due to a "very high" risk of wildfires over the coming days.

With lockdown restrictions easing amid the coronavirus pandemic, residents have been warned to exercise caution due to extremely dry weather in the county.

The risk of wildfires breaking out is very high at the moment with the county having had little rain over the past two months and the Met Office has warned Essex to expect fires on into next week.

Moira Bruin, assistant chief officer with Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We appreciate many people are beginning to enjoy more time outside as they start to meet up with friends and family in outdoor spaces.

“We have had very little rain over the past two months, and the Met Office is forecasting a high risk of wildfires in our county.

“Vast areas of countryside is tinder dry and has all of the ingredients for fire to take hold and spread.

“We’ve already seen some devastating wildfires in other parts of the county this year.

“We can all take easy steps to reduce the risk of a wildfire or outdoor fire starting, so please, exercise extreme caution and think twice before using anything involving a naked flame, such as disposable barbecues or campfire."

Residents are advised to take all their rubbish home with them when they leave outdoor areas.

Cigarettes and smoking materials must be disposed of properly and landowners are also advised, where possible, to be prepared for fires and ensure fire breaks are cut and well maintained with any cut grasses and vegetation removed from the site.

For more information and advice about outdoor fire safety visit essex-fire.gov.uk/outdoors.