Campfire and barbecue found at scene of Studland Heath fire

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service says it believes the cause of the Studland Heath fire in Dorset, which took at least 90 firefighters to control, was a campfire and barbecue that was found where the fire started.

The blaze that started on Friday 12th August 2022 has destroyed a large area of National Trust owned heathland on the Studland peninsula, which is home to some of the most rare reptiles and insects in the UK including the sand lizard.

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Aerial view of Studland fire
DWFireRescue
Aerial view of Studland fire
DWFireRescue
Damping down Studland Heath fire
Swanage Fire Station

It’s believed this building was a bird hide that overlooked Little Sea

“We have found evidence of a campfire and BBQ at the seat of the fire”

On social media, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service posted:

“We have found evidence of a campfire and BBQ at the seat of the fire on Studland and believe this to be the cause of the fire which started yesterday.

“Please DO NOT have campfires, bonfires or use barbecues in the countryside.”

Damping down Studland Heath fire
Swanage Fire Station

Still damping down hot spots the following day

Studland Heath fire
Swanage Fire Station
Studland Fire
Lorraine West

The intensive fire burned quickly across the gorse and heather of Studland Heath that is next to Poole Harbour

National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest

The area is part of a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) however it is not covered by a legally enforceable ban preventing the lighting of outdoor fires.

Earlier in 2022, Dorset Council brought in a Public Space Protection Order for many parts of Dorset, which made it legally enforceable for fires and disposable barbecues to be extinguished and fines to be handed out by enforcement officers.

This order mainly covers Forestry England land in Dorset. Studland and the majority of Purbeck heath and woodland is not included.

Damping down Studland Heath fire
Swanage Fire Station
Sandbanks Ferry with fire engine
Kimmeridge Coastguard
Emergency vehicles on Ferry Road
Kimmeridge Coastguard

Journeys were disrupted with road closures and the suspension of a normal ferry service and a huge number of emergency service resources from across Dorset were deployed

Campaign to remove disposable barbecues from supermarket shelves

Litter Free Dorset has been campaigning for disposable barbecues, which have been the cause of many recent heathfires, to be removed from sale from shops across Dorset, especially during this period of hot dry weather.

The only store in Swanage which still stocks disposable barbecues is the Co-op.

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