Fire crews stay overnight as Wareham Forest fire refuses to be extinguished

Swanage Fire Station has been back at the scene of the devastating Wareham Forest fire that started three weeks ago, to help put out a new flare up.

Despite all the effort of crews across Dorset to dampen down the scorched woodland floor, the intensity of the original blaze means that there is still burning underground and this has again led to a fire outbreak.

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Firefighters were alerted to the blaze yesterday lunchtime and at first it wasn’t clear whether this was a new separate incident or not. On arrival they found about 1.25 hectares alight.

We are currently in attendance at #Wareham Forest dealing with a new fire in a new location. We have 10 fire engines and a number of other resources on scene and will be here for the rest of the day.#SugarHill road is about to be closed and there is a significant amount of smoke in the area. Please avoid the area and if your home is affected by the smoke, please keep windows and doors closed.It is too early to confirm the cause of this fire. Further updates will follow#heathfire #heathland #fire #firefighters #dorset #warehamforest

Posted by DWFireRescue on Monday, 8 June 2020

Twelve fire appliances, three water carriers, two Land Rover pumps and a Unimog were initially on site, with approximately 75 firefighters, indicating the seriousness of the incident. Sugar Hill road was closed to traffic and there was a significant amount of smoke in the area.

Evidence of deep subterranean burning deep within a tree trunk

On closer investigation it was discovered that the source of the fire was a hotspot that had reignited.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said:

“An initial fire investigation has concluded that a fire currently being tackled within Wareham Forest is connected to the one which started three weeks ago.

“Firefighters have found evidence of deep subterranean burning deep within a tree trunk which made it to the surface earlier today and then was fanned by the wind.”

Swanage Fire crew were on site early this morning as dawn broke with Wareham Fire Station’s Unimog, continuing to dampen down hotspots and keeping an eye out for further fire outbreaks.

“PLEASE help us by not lighting fires”

This afternoon, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue posted an update:

“We have now scaled back further, to two Land Rover pumps and the Unimog, with crews continuing to dampen down the affected area. One Land Rover pump will stay on scene overnight to maintain a watching brief, in conjunction with Forestry England.

“Sugar Hill Road has now been reopened. We continue to ask local residents and visitors to the area to resist any activity that could lead to a fire starting.

“PLEASE help us by not lighting fires, having barbecues in the open or doing anything that may set alight grass, foliage, heath or woodland.”

Rain is forecast for Thursday and Friday, which should help prevent further fire flare ups.

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