Beach users are being urged to act responsibly with barbecues and waste after fire crews spent eight hours tackling a fire at Saunton on Wednesday night and Thursday (May 20 and 21).

A disposable barbecue is thought to have ignited the fire. Picture: Braunton Fire StationA disposable barbecue is thought to have ignited the fire. Picture: Braunton Fire Station

Fire crews from Braunton, Barnstaple and Bideford were all called to the beach to tackle a fire which saw driftwood and beach debris catch alight along a 50-metre stretch.

While the exact cause of the fire is unknown, a disposable barbecue and glass found at the scene are thought to have ignited the dry debris.

A crew from Braunton was initially called to the beach on Wednesday night after the fire was spotted from the Appledore area.

Access issues meant the crew was unable to locate the fire, which had thankfully died down, and crews returned on Thursday to tackle the blaze, pulling apart and tackling the fire with shovels and beaters.

The fire of drift wood and other beach debris stretched over 50 metres. Picture: Braunton Fire StationThe fire of drift wood and other beach debris stretched over 50 metres. Picture: Braunton Fire Station

Braunton crew manager Barry Webb said much of the debris included things that had been thrown onto the beach during the winter storms, such as timber and tree trunks and stumps.

He added: “There is evidence of a discarded disposable barbecue and another potential ignition is lots of discarded waste from people not taking things home.

“There were plastics, which are a big issue in another way, but are also combustible, and glass could have been another cause with the magnification of the sun.

“It was over a 50-metre stretch and the concern really was there is another 100 metres beyond that that it could have crept along.”

Mr Webb urged beachgoers to be responsible, especially with disposable barbecues and glass.

“We appreciate people have been cooped up with the pandemic and there is now an opportunity to sensibly relax that, but some people are still not being particularly thoughtful.

“Our message on disposable barbecues would be, there is an open expanse of water to get a bucket and cool it off and you should take it home with you.”

“We have spent eight hours on this, different fire crews, which is a massive cost to the tax payer.

“More importantly, we are going along the beach with shovels and beaters when there could bee a far more urgent incident.”