THE same number of lives were lost to fires in Dorset and Wiltshire last year despite a drop in the number of incidents attended by firefighters, new statistics show.

The local situation mirrors that across England, with the chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council saying he is “very concerned” by the national situation and that fire services face “huge challenges”.

There were six fire-related fatalities in Dorset and Wiltshire in the 12 months to September last year, Home Office figures show – five of them occurring in homes in the area.

​This was the same number as the year before.

It comes despite a 10 per cent decrease in the number of fires, with 3,397 recorded over the year.

The Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service crews were most often needed to attend small outdoor fires that don’t involve people or property.

These secondary fires were responsible for 44 per cent of their fire-related callouts, but had decreased in number from the year before which the NFCC said was caused by a hot, dry summer in 2018.

The number of casualties dropped to 77 in the 12 months to September – 62 per cent of which resulted in someone going to hospital.