BEACHGOERS have been told they could be prosecuted for criminal damage after firefighters were called to three bonfires in one night.

The warning comes as fears grow for wildlife at South Walney nature reserve as the warm weather brings out the crowds to beaches across Furness.

Crews were called out to Thorny Nook at 10pm on Thursday night and extinguished the bonfires using shovels and sand.

A spokesman for Walney Fire Station said: “Please remember, this land has been opened up for access as people enjoy the coastal walk.

“Just because you can walk through fields or on the beach, doesn’t mean you can build fires.

“In both cases you should seek permission from the landowner.

“Should it get out of hand or scorch the grass then you could be prosecuted for criminal damage.

“Every beach in the UK is owned by someone, usually the council, National Trust or a private landowner.

“There is livestock in the area and it is nesting season for the many species of birds which runs March till August.

“Please enjoy our island but do it responsibly.”

Sarah Dalrymple, warden of South Walney Nature Reserve, warned of the dangers bonfires pose for the area’s wildlife.

She said: “We’re lucky on Walney in that we have lots of bird’s nests.

“But if you have a bonfire, the parents are often scared off and the eggs don’t have anything to warm them so it’s really important not to disturb them.

“Also, the plants around that area will be killed if fires are lit which can be really quite damaging.

“As well as that, bonfires are dangerous.

“If it spreads, they can turn into ghost bush fires which are terrible and will kill wildlife.

“They’re a danger to people and the environment too.”

Frank Cassidy, a South Walney Councillor, described lighting fires on beaches as ‘irresponsible’.

He said: “After weeks of lockdown, the warmer weather has caused many people to make a bee-line for our beaches.

“Providing social distancing is observed, we want people to enjoy Walney sea front but lighting fires is irresponsible.

“Beach bonfires can blow out of hand and we would urge people to act responsibly at all times.”