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Investigation plea after second large fire in a week tears through Pennington Common

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CALLS have been made for a police investigation after firefighters battled the second large blaze in a week at Pennington Common.

The alarm was raised shortly before 4pm on Saturday, with over 50 999 calls, as flames engulfed gorse and grassland off Ramley and Wainsford roads.

This followed a fire at the same site six days earlier, which gutted a 1.5-hectare area of land.

Firefighters spent nearly three hours extinguishing the flames (Photo: renoufdesign.co.uk)
Firefighters spent nearly three hours extinguishing the flames (Photo: renoufdesign.co.uk)

As reported in the A&T, both Hampshire police and the fire service said they were not investigating the cause despite firefighters finding discarded lighters at the scene.

Crews from Lymington and Beaulieu responded to Saturday’s call-out, along with Dorset counterparts and back-up vehicles from Ringwood and Eastleigh.

They spent nearly three hours extinguishing the flames and damping down the scene.

One fire crew returned the following morning to inspect the scene and extinguish remaining hotspots before being called to deal with another flare-up around 5pm.

Liberal Democrat town and district councillor Jack Davies was among those calling for a probe into the blazes.

An aerial view of the damage (Photo: Matt Renouf/renoufdesign.co.uk)
An aerial view of the damage (Photo: Matt Renouf/renoufdesign.co.uk)

Following last Sunday’s incident he had urged people to exercise caution when visiting Forest areas, which are still at high fire risk following the long spell of warm and dry weather.

“I am, once again, devastated to see a second fire on Pennington Common within a week of the previous fire,” Cllr Davies said.

“This will be a huge blow to many flora and fauna species which inhabit the common.

“It is now clear that the police must launch an investigation into the cause of this second fire to prevent further fires at the common in the weeks ahead.

“It cannot be a coincidence that two fires happen on consecutive weekends.”

Cllr Jack Davies
Cllr Jack Davies

He added: “An investigation is needed to find out what has caused these destructive fires.”

One resident told the A&T many locals were frustrated that no action appeared to be being taken to investigate the fires, fearing this could encourage potential arsonists to light more.

A fire service spokesperson confirmed Saturday's blaze was also believed to have been started deliberately and police had been alerted.

But they added it was not thought there would be an investigation "at this stage".

A Hampshire police spokesperson told the A&T: "We were called at 4.02pm on Saturday (30th July) to a report of a fire on Pennington Common.

"We were informed by the fire service that the cause was doubtful and the incident was filed."

The force spokesperson added the 24th July fire had been filed as non-suspicious at the time.

Barbecues, campfires and bonfires continue to be banned in the New Forest amid the high fire risk alert.

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