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Asda and Morrisons latest to withdraw disposable barbecues over wildfire risk

<span>Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/REX/Shutterstock

Morrisons and Asda have joined Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other big retailers in stopping the sale of disposable barbecues as the risk of wildfires climbs.

Both supermarkets said they were temporarily removing the product from sale in all stores because of the hot dry weather, with an official drought expected to be declared in parts of south and east England on Friday. Morrisons said in March it would remove disposable barbecues from sale within one mile of national parks to help prevent wildfires.

Their move leaves Lidl as the only major supermarket chain to continue selling disposable barbecues nationwide. Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Aldi announced they would no longer stock disposable barbecues because of the potential detrimental impact they have on the environment and wildlife. The Co-op has stopped selling them close to national parks.

Tesco changed its policy from a local ban near areas of outstanding beauty, such as the New Forest, to a UK-wide pause late on Thursday in light of the heatwave and dry conditions. It is understood to be planning to restock disposable barbecues once weather conditions make it safe to do so.

Sainsbury’s said earlier on Thursday it was removing the items from sale as a “precautionary measure” during the hot dry weather and would monitor the situation and listen to feedback from its shoppers.

The retailers acted after the Met Office issued its highest warning under its fire severity index.

A petition on the UK government website calling for a national ban has received more than 20,000 signatures. The Labour party is calling for a complete ban on their sale, while Andy Roe, London’s fire commissioner, said “urgent action” must be taken to outlaw the sale of disposable barbecues because of the “untold damage” they cause.

The barbecues are a fire risk, especially when used on dry ground. Parts of England have had their driest weather for 111 years, creating tinderbox conditions that have led to a string of crop and grass fires.

Disposable barbecues were cited as the cause of several fires, including a serious blaze in Lickey Hills, near Birmingham. There was also a large fire at Morden Hall park in south London caused by an abandoned disposable barbecue that left a large area of the park scorched.