Fanned by high winds and made worse by dry conditions, two heath fires broke out in Dorset on Bank Holiday Monday.
Crews from across the county as well as Hampshire, were involved including a team from Swanage Fire Station.
Firefighters tackling the two blazes at St Leonards and St Ives
St Leonards and St Ives
The first call came at 2.18 pm on Monday 3rd May 2021, when two fire outbreaks were reported off Hurn Road in St Leonards and St Ives, just past Ferndown in Dorset.
Fire engines called to the scene were from Swanage, Ringwood, Ferndown, Christchurch, Wimborne, Springbourne, Redhill Park, and Sturminster Newton, together with the Unimog from Wareham, small 4×4 appliances from Ferndown, Ringwood and Christchurch and water carriers from Ringwood and Poole.
Swanage Fire Station reported that they got the call to attend at 3.29 pm:
“Our off road appliance was sent to St Leonards to a large heath fire.
Crews helped damp down the large area and were later assisted by the heavy rain.”
In total, across all the crews, around 50 firefighters were involved.
Smoke lingers in the forest at St Leonards and St Ives
Rapidly developing fire at Boveridge Heath
At 2.51 pm, there was a second call to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue’s control room, informing of a rapidly developing fire at Boveridge Heath near Verwood in Dorset.
With many fire crews from across Dorset already deployed, fire stations from Hampshire were also called to attend from as far away as Eastleigh. At the height of the blaze there were around 90 firefighters at the scene.
By 7 pm on Monday 3rd May 2021 the fires at St Leonards and St Ives were under control and the incident at Verwood was being scaled back.
Scorched earth at St Leonards and St Ives
“Strong winds are making the firefighting conditions very challenging”
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue area manager, Damien Bence said:
“Both of these incidents are incredibly resource-intensive and we are grateful to colleagues in Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service for their support. The strong winds are making the firefighting conditions very challenging, but progress is being made with both fires, thanks to the hard work of crews.
“We hope to scale back our attendance at both incidents over the coming hours, but we expect to maintain some form of presence in both locations overnight.”
The fire service said that at this stage, there was no information about the likely cause of the fires but investigations will continue today.