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New Forest on high fire alert after spate of blazes

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The dry weather has prompted a high fire risk warning (Photo: Hamphsire Fire and Rescue Service)
The dry weather has prompted a high fire risk warning (Photo: Hamphsire Fire and Rescue Service)

A LARGE swathe of heathland near Ringwood was destroyed in one of a string of blazes as the New Forest was put on a high fire alert.

The bank holiday weekend emergencies came as Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, in collaboration with Forestry England (formerly the Forestry Commission), raised the New Forest fire risk warning to "high".

Around 35 firefighters from Hampshire and Dorset responded to a call-out to Plumley Wood in Plumley at around 1.25pm on Sunday, as flames engulfed about 200 square metres of land.

On arrival they found nine separate fires involving heathland and trees. The fires were brought under control after four hours.

Crews returned to the scene the following day to ensure there were no further hotspots.

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said four hectares of heathland and forest had been destroyed.

Also on Sunday, firefighters from New Milton, Lyndhurst and Hardley responded to a blaze on a small area of gorse and scrubland on Pennington Common.

The alarm was raised at about 4.30pm, and crews spent just under two hours containing the incident on the site off Ramley and Wainsford roads.

At around 10.20pm firefighters from Beaulieu were dispatched to deal with two unattended campfires to the rear of the Pig Bush Inclosure car park, off the B3056 Hatchet Lane in Beaulieu.

This was a return visit for crews who had just extinguished a small blaze at the same site, prompting a plea to the public by the Beaulieu fire crew.

They tweeted: “This is the second fire in as many days at Pig Bush! Campfires are not permitted here so please stop lighting them as they can easily spread! #StaySafe.”

On Saturday, firefighters responded to a call-out at around 10.45am to Denny Wood, off Beaulieu Road in Lyndhurst, where they spent 90 minutes dealing with another unattended campfire.

Crews from Lyndhurst and Romsey spent just over an hour on a small blaze engulfing heath and gorse on Canada Common, near Furzley, after a call-out at around 8.15pm on bank holiday Monday.

The public have been urged to take extra care during warm and dry conditions.

A tweet by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service warned: “It only takes one match, cigarette or barbecue to cause a #wildfire.

“Whether you're enjoying the #NewForest or your local park, prevent a fire from scorching our land by reading our Countryside Code.”

The Countryside Code, which provides tips on how to stay safe, can be found at www.hantsfire.gov.uk/keeping-safe/atleisure/in-the-countryside.

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