Third blaze prompts Fire Service warning

Fire engines at last Wednesday’s blaze in Lindford

Fire engines at last Wednesday’s blaze in Lindford

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has appealed for people to stay safe following a spate of heathland fires.

A blaze last Wednesday afternoon at heathland in Broxhead Farm Road, Lindford, saw three hectares of gorse destroyed, with five fire engines from across the county fighting the flames.

The blaze followed two fires at Bordon’s Alexandra Park over recent weeks, described by Deadwater Valley Trust staff as acts of arson, which reportedly saw more than 70 per cent of the heathland destroyed.

The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to last Wednesday’s fire in Broxhead Farm Road at 1.46pm, and completed its operation more than four hours later at 5.59pm. Crews battled the flames with hose reels and beaters.

As well as damage to wildlife, heathland is a rare habitat that can take a long time to recover from fires.

Whitehill and Bordon and its surrounding areas are rich in sensitive heathland.

The warm weather has seen a spike in fires in the open, including a blaze at Yateley Common that destroyed six hectares of heathland last Tuesday.

Hampshire firefighters responded to a total 39 heathland and grass fires across the two days.

As thousands of people prepare to go camping, have barbecues and enjoy beauty spots, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding them to follow The Countryside Code.

Many fires are caused by carelessly discarded cigarettes and people should not dispose of cigarettes in the countryside, Hampshire Fire and Rescue said.

Another risk is that the heat from the sun can be magnified through bottles, glasses and broken glass, and rubbish should be taken home.

People should also take care when using camp fires and barbecues, and never leave them unattended and only light them in safe, designated areas, away from trees and shrubs.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue’s Jerry Leonard said: “In Hampshire we are lucky to have stunning countryside, forests and woodland.

“But the recent warm weather in the build up to the bank holiday weekend means our countryside is very dry and more people are gearing up to go camping and set up barbecues and camp fires.

“Unfortunately, at this time of year we also see a rise in illegal fire setting, which is why we urge anyone who suspects or witnesses a fire being started to report this to the police.

“By respecting the countryside and our county’s open spaces we can create a safe place for all to enjoy.”

Hampshire Fire and Rescue said people should not attempt to tackle a fire “too large to be extinguished by a bucket of water” or put themselves at risk, including trying to take photographs.

Instead, they should call 999 immediately and give as much information as possible, and evacuate the area.