RAGING field fires which devastated huge swathes of Oxfordshire countryside in 2018 have prompted a warning from firefighters as temperatures soar.

Oxfordshire’s famed rolling countryside was ravaged by flames that tore through crops, parks, and roadside verges last summer.

Dramatic footage repeatedly captured farmer’s fields being reduced to ashes and open fields going up in flames due to discarded cigarettes, malfunctioning machinery, out-of-control bonfires and in some instances suspected arson.

READ AGAIN: VIDEO: No let up for fire crews who are working flat out as field fires continue

Figures from a Freedom of Information Request to Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service revealed the number of ‘field fires’ crews were forced to battle went up by a third in 2018.

Some 82 fires in open grassland and agricultural land were recording for the whole of 2018 – the equivalent of almost one field fire every four days last year.

These figures, including 'standing crop', stacked crops, straw burning and grassland, are in comparison to 63 field fires in 2017, 66 in 2016, and 59 in 2015.

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Andy Ford of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “There is an increased risk of field fires in the dry and hot weather.

“Grass fires can get out of hand very quickly, cause extensive damage and put lives at risk. They can also last for several days once a fire takes hold using up valuable fire service resources, which could be needed elsewhere.”

In 2018, the county’s countryside was left desiccated from the unprecedented heatwave.

Now, after temperatures soared to 32C in some Oxfordshire areas at the weekend, residents have been urged to stay alert of the dangers again this year.

Crews continually battled open fires right across the county which included a dramatic sea of flames tearing through farmer’s fields in Upper Heyford near Bicester last August.

Plumes of thick black smoke billowed through the air as flames reached up to five metres high spreading quickly through the parched farmland.

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This fire, sparked by a fallen cable, was quickly followed by 400 tonnes of landfill that had gone up in smoke in Finmere near Bicester.

Other fires included a suspected arson attack in a field in Langford, a discarded cigarette sparking a field fire in Caversfield and 800sqm of scorched farmland in Ewelme near Wallingford.

More recently, ‘bush fires’ were reported along the A4074 near Berinsfield as firefighters scramble to put out fires on the roadside.

READ AGAIN: 'Bush fires' spotted on A4074

Mr Ford urged people to avoid open fires in the countryside, to not leave glass or bottles in woodland, extinguish cigarettes properly, only use barbecues in suitable areas and never leave them unattended, and never throw cigarettes out the window.

He urged residents: "Please take care when in the countryside and alert the service to fires as early as possible via 999 calls.

"An early call could mean the difference between a small, easily controllable fire and a widespread, devastating fire."