A warning has been issued about the fire risk from bags of donations left outside charity shops.

People are dropping off items now charity shops are opening again. Once storage space has been exhausted, shops will have a limit on how many items they can accept at any one time, which could lead to people leaving bags of donations outside.

Station Manager for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service David Waters said: “Whilst we realise that leaving donations outside the doors of charity shops is meant well, it is actually fly tipping and creates problems for the charities as they then have to divert time and resources to dispose of those items.

"Of even greater concern is the fire risk that such items present – lending themselves as a means of combustible material to arson opportunists and may even compromise the premises’ means of escape. We are asking that people either hang onto items for a little longer until shops can start taking donations again or seek an alternative avenue for re-homing their belongings.”

Across Dorset and Wiltshire, many communities have developed their own grass-roots initiatives to help unneeded items find their way to a useful new home. DWFRS are urging people to contact their local town or parish councils or check local newspapers and social media pages to see what opportunities are available in each area.

Arson is the largest single cause of fires attended by fire and services nationally. This means resources are made unavailable to attend other critical incidents and deliver essential fire prevention work, because they were engaged with fires set intentionally.

For more information about combatting arson, visit www.dwfire.org.uk