Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is still battling to contain a fire affecting approximately 100 hectares of heath and woodland in Wareham Forest, which started shortly before 12.30pm this afternoon (18 May).
With the flames being fanned by strong winds, 28 fire engines are currently in attendance from Bere Regis, Wareham (two), Wimborne, Christchurch (two), Poole (three), Weymouth, Westbourne, Blandford (two), Dorchester (two), Swanage (two), Ferndown, Redhill Park, Sturminster Newton (two), Shaftesbury, Bridport (two), Verwood, Springbourne, Warminster and New Milton. Also on scene are a Unimog from Wareham; water carriers from Poole, Christchurch, Bridport and Yeovil; Land Rover pumps from Poole, Hamworthy, Wimborne, Swanage, Ferndown, Blandford, Christchurch, Beaminster and Charmouth; support units from Hamworthy, Sherborne and Ferndown; and the high volume pump from Christchurch.
The A35 between Bere Regis and Morden Park Corner as well as Sugar Hill and Bere Road have been closed due to the smoke plume affecting a wide area and making them impassable. The smoke is being blown towards the Bournemouth, Poole, Ferndown and Wimborne areas. Residents are being urged to keep windows and doors closed as a precaution, particularly if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
Local people are also being made aware that due to the electricity pylons in the forest being affected by the fire, there may be some disruption to supplies in the local area. Residents should use the 105 service if they experience a power cut.
At this stage, the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but with the AMBER Wildfire Alert still in place, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service would like to remind the public about the importance of staying fire-aware when out and about in the countryside.
- Extinguish cigarettes properly, don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home.
- Please avoid having BBQs on the heath or in open spaces. If you must have a BBQ, please ensure it is fully extinguished when you are finished and take all your rubbish away with you (including the BBQ!)
- Avoid open fires in the countryside. If you must have them, then ensure they are fully extinguished before leaving them unattended.
- If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Early detection can prevent it from developing into a large wildfire incident.
If you see a fire:
- Get to a safe place,
- note the fire location,
- call 999,
- meet the Fire and Rescue Service at the entrance.
- Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.
More safety advice can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/safety-outdoors
Pictures from DW Fire & Rescue and S/Insp 4800 from Dorset Police