Powerful video hits home the dangers of disposable barbecues

In a heartbreaking video, Wareham Fire Station has laid bare the sheer scale of the last seven days of destruction of Wareham Forest, as fire ripped through the habitat of millions of creatures, leaving only the lucky few to escape.

With shots that look more like scenes from an apocalypse horror film, it’s hard to imagine that this fire was started only a week ago, probably from a carelessly discarded disposable barbecue, by people who thought nothing about leaving the dying embers close to tinder dry grass.

Fire destruction in Wareham Forest.
Swanage Fire Station

Desolate scenes of charred heathland

The financial and environmental cost of this fire, across at least 190 hectares of protected forestry land, has been huge, involving practically every firefighter in Dorset and many from Wiltshire too, as round the clock they have fought to stop the burning.

Swanage Fire crew have been back everyday

Swanage Fire truck at Wareham Forest fire
Swanage Fire Station

Swanage Fire crew were still at the scene last night at sunset

The Swanage Fire Station crew was one of the first to back up the crew deployed from Wareham when the fire started and they’ve been back everyday since to tackle the blaze. At times they’ve had to work hard to beat the fire, as the wind has restarted the flames and they’ve had to return to damp down again.

This weekend, high volume pumps have been brought in from Christchurch, Devon & Somerset, Hampshire and Avon as getting enough water to fight the fire has been a challenge. Over five miles of hose has been laid, enabling water to be drawn from sources some distance from the site.

Helicopter at Wareham Forest Fire
DW Fire and Rescue

The Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel helicopter has been drafted in to help

Last Friday, with strong winds starting to reignite the fire again, Forestry England had to deploy tactics more usually seen in the Australian Outback, calling in a helicopter to scoop a thousand litres of water at a time from a lake and then dropping it on specific hotspots or flying past in an arc motion, spreading the water across a wider area of the forest.

The Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel helicopter was recently deployed by South Wales Fire and Rescue after it was recently besieged by more than 500 deliberately set wildfires. Now for the first time, Dorset has called on its expertise to quell one of the county’s most extensive and dangerous heath fires in recent times.

The message of the video is simple; please do not use disposable barbecues on heath, grass or woodland areas.

WARNING: This video includes images of burnt lizards, snakes and frogs.

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.

Community comments

Top stories

Crisis in Swanage care home as residents and staff get Covid Wordsworth House Care Home in Swanage is appealing for more qualified staff to come to their aid after 34 residents and 30 staff tested positive for coronavirus. 1 month ago Swanage Coastguard subjected to “unnecessary aggression” 2 weeks ago Lockdown 3 – Swanage takeaway and shops to get you through the worst sequel ever 2 months ago Swanage seafront hit by large waves and flying sea foam 2 weeks ago Urgent appeal as pandemic impacts staffing at local hospitals 4 weeks ago

Most recent

Swanage councillors disown leaflet about proposed gypsy site Councillor Gary Suttle and councillor Bill Trite who represent Swanage on Dorset Council say they did not write a leaflet that objects to a proposed gypsy site in Swanage. 8 hours ago Ban on barbecues put on back burner by Dorset Council 1 day ago January – worst month for Covid deaths in Swanage 2 days ago Lulworth Estate demands better manners from visitors this summer 3 days ago Free PPE for Swanage’s unpaid carers 3 days ago