Accidental fires cause by using BBQs in parks could have disastrous consequences for wildlife, warns The Royal Parks.

Several fires accidentally start in the Royal Parks every year by embers and ash falling from disposable BBQs, this is especially worse in a heatwave as ‘dry grass is like tinder’.

According to The Royal Parks, the fires can have a devastating effect, destroying parkland which is home to wildlife, killing plants and trees, as well as wiping out wild-flower meadowland.

Adam Curtis, park manager for Richmond Park, said: “In some areas of the park we’ve seen centuries of biodiversity wiped out because of a fire caused by a BBQ.

“We’ve lost veteran trees and even if the tree survives the fire will burn out the decaying wood within. This important habitat supports over 1,000 different species of insects and their larvae which can be destroyed. Birds will fly off but sadly baby birds will die, as will roosting bats.

“Grassland fires spread quickly and set off a chain reaction. In fallen deadwood, I’ve found burnt grass snake eggs and stag beetle larvae. Invertebrates in the grass also get burnt - mammals will run off but their nests get burnt.

“The grass dies as does any seed bank. Often what grows back is a different composition of species and if more aggressive rye grasses get in, then we tend to find the grass loses some of its wildlife value.”

Dennis Clarke, head of park services for The Royal Parks, added: “We understand the temptation to use beautiful green spaces for BBQs, but hot coals and dry grass don’t mix. During the hot weather, the grass in the parks is like tinder.

“No-one ever believes it’ll be their BBQ that causes a fire, but fires can start easily and rapidly get out of control especially in the wilder, more secluded parks.

Fires are often started when BBQs are positioned under large trees, which could be hundreds of years old. At Richmond Park trees that are almost 700-years-old have gone up in flames following accident fires.