Swanage Railway suspends steam loco service after track side fire

Following a large fire near the railway embankment at Corfe Castle, Swanage Railway announced that it will just run a diesel train service during the dry weather “until further notice”.

Fire crews were called to the blaze close to the railtrack between Harmans Cross and Corfe Castle at around 4.30 pm on Saturday 6th August 2022.

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Fire at Corfe Castle
swanage fire station

The fire had spread from the embankment to adjacent fields

Firefighters from Swanage, Wareham and Bridport

While firefighters from Swanage, Wareham and Bridport tackled the flames that had spread to neighbouring fields, the train service to Swanage was halted.

It’s common for sparks from the coal-fired steam engines to set light to the embankment but usually the flames are contained and quickly extinguished.

Fire at Corfe Castle
swanage fire station
Fire at Corfe Castle
Bridport Fire Station

Bridport Fire Station was covering for Dorchester when the call came in to provide back up to the Wareham and Swanage crews

“We have taken the decision to run diesel services”

Swanage Railway later announced:

“Due to the ongoing hot, dry conditions, along with a fire near our line today, we have taken the decision to run diesel services from Sunday 7th August until further notice. We will review the situation and update on any changes in the coming days.

“For those who are keen on diesels… both services on Sunday will be hauled by our Class 33 Diesels; D6515 and 33111.”

Fire at Corfe Castle
swanage fire station
Fire at Corfe Castle
Bridport Fire Station

A large area was quickly turned to dark cinders

“The fire spread through the fields quickly”

The fire was quickly spotted from miles away as the smoke billowed across the landscape.

Swanage Fire Station reported:

“This afternoon we attended a large field fire in Corfe Castle. The fire spread through the fields quickly, making it difficult to extinguish. Crews from other stations came to assist and we managed to get the fire under control.

“The fire is now out but some crews are still on scene for a short while longer and will then reinspect the incident in the morning.

Fire at Corfe Castle
swanage fire station
Fire at Corfe Castle
Bridport Fire Station

According to Swanage Fire Station the blaze was difficult to control but was eventually extinguished

“Apologies to everyone who was delayed”

Swanage Railway volunteer, James Bristow posted on social media:

“As one of the Porters at Swanage today, apologies to everyone who was delayed and inconvenienced by the fire today, we were waiting for updates from the fire service on a quickly developing situation.

“Hopefully between buses, taxis and lifts from friends, we managed to get everyone on their way to where they were going.”

Fire at Corfe Castle
Bridport Fire Station
Fire at Corfe Castle
J Burch

The fire could be seen from National Trust’s Corfe Castle, while the crews fighting the blaze could see the castle in the distance

“Massive concern for us at the moment”

With no end in sight to the recent dry weather, and temperatures set to rise again, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking everyone to take extra care when enjoying the outdoors.

A spokesperson said:

“Fires outside are a massive concern for us at the moment, with the conditions so dry and no rain in sight. Last month, we attended 339 fires in the open, compared to 120 in July last year – that’s an increase of 182 percent!

“There was also a 30 percent increase in calls received by fire control. Please help us by doing all you can to prevent fires.”

Watch the video from Wareham Fire Station

Fire at Corfe Castle
Amelia Coffen
Fire at Corfe Castle
J Burch

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