Investigation into Studland heath fire reveals cause

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service says the fire that destroyed around 20 hectares of heathland in Studland in Dorset was started accidentally.

The dramatic blaze on Godlingston Heath near to the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club course took hold on the evening of Tuesday 30th November 2021.

Advertisement 

Fire crews from across Dorset including Swanage and Wareham battled to put out the fire as it spread, driven by strong winds.

Studland Fire
Amelia Coffen
Studland Fire
Amelia Coffen

Alerted by members of the public, fire crews rushed to put out the rapidly spreading fire

Brought under control

It was brought under control a few hours later, although crews had to return over the following two days to dampen down hotspots that were at risk of reigniting.

Now Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue says the investigation into the cause of the blaze has confirmed that the fire was accidental and spread from a bonfire.

Earlier in the week, gorse bushes, which can be invasive if left to grow, were being cleared from the area near to the golf course.

Fire damage after Studland heath fire
Wareham Fire Station

The extent of the damage to Godlingston Heath

Home to many endangered species

Godlingston Heath is owned by the National Trust and part of the Purbeck Heaths national nature reserve.

It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and home to many endangered species.

All six species of native British reptile are found on the heathland, including the rare sand lizard and smooth snake.

Fire damage after Studland heath fire
Swanage Fire Station
Fire damage after Studland heath fire
Swanage Fire Station

Firefighters returned over the following two days to dampen down hotspots

“Hopeful that hibernating reptiles and insects survived

A spokesperson from Purbeck National Trust said:

“Even though the fire looked very dramatic, the good news is that the damage is probably less than we first feared.

“Strong winds followed by rain made for a fire that moved fast but did not burn deep into the ground, which was then quickly doused. Because of that we are hopeful that hibernating reptiles and insects survived. The time of year means there was no threat to ground-nesting birds either.

“Our rangers will continue to monitor the situation. This was a serious fire but even though it affected around 20 hectares that is less than one per cent of the Purbeck Heaths national nature reserve – a good example of how landscape scale conservation makes nature more resilient.”

“We would like to thank Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service for its prompt action and hard work and we really appreciate the messages of support we have received from the community.”

Fire damage after Studland heath fire
Swanage Fire Station
Fire damage after Studland heath fire
Swanage Fire Station

Although the fire had been extinguished, the heath can still smoulder below the soil and has to be doused to stop it reigniting

Watch Wareham Fire Station video of the fire

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.

Advertisement 

Top stories

Locals aim for global success in Swanage pub takeover A group of Swanage friends who liked their local pub so much that they bought the tenancy are ready to return the Globe to its former glory. 2 weeks ago New funfair ride divides Swanage community 3 weeks ago Swanage fun park ride removed after controversy 2 weeks ago Man in Swanage has jaw broken in violent assault 1 month ago Miracle as school pupil survives 60 foot fall from Old Harry 4 weeks ago

Most recent

Swanage to give Blues music legend fitting send off The extraordinary life of the founder of the Swanage Blues Festival will be celebrated with a funeral service at the town’s Royal British Legion. 40 mins ago Secrets of Purbeck’s smuggling past revealed in new book 1 day ago Flying the flag in Swanage for Coastwatch life savers 2 days ago Purbeck bans sale of new build properties as second homes 3 days ago Solar panels to boost Swanage Town Council’s energy 4 days ago