Barbecue believed cause of Wareham heath fire

A LARGE heath fire which damaged more than a hectare of heathland is believed to have been started by a discarded barbecue.

Fire crews were in attendance overnight and into this morning to ensure all remaining hotspots were extinguished after a fire broke out on Furzebrook Heath in Wareham on Sunday afternoon (June 26).

The blaze destroyed approximately 60m by 60m of heathland and impacted one hectare of land as the emergency caused road closures and major disruption.

Video by Simon Rowley:

A spokesperson from the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has since confirmed the believed cause is that of a discarded barbecue which was found in the aftermath.

Pictures show the extent of the damage which charred the land at Stoborough and saw smoke bellow onto the A351 to Swanage, hindering vision.

Bournemouth Echo: Heath fire at Furzebrook Heath in Stoborough, Wareham, on Sunday June 26. Picture: DWFSHeath fire at Furzebrook Heath in Stoborough, Wareham, on Sunday June 26. Picture: DWFS

More than 50 firefighters from at least seven stations extinguished the flames using ten fire engines and several off-road vehicles, doing so before it reached the main road.

Fire containment and damping down continued into Sunday evening, with crews returning at around 7am on Monday to continue this. They will also return at 4.40pm on Monday for a final check.

No injuries were reported following the fire.

New powers to try to prevent devastating fires on Dorset heathlands came into force this summer.

Dorset Council introduced a new open land anti-social behaviour related public space protection order, a move that will give authorities an additional measure in trying to prevent wildfires.

The order means it is an offence to light a fire of any kind in Ringwood Forest and Wareham Forest.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, which tackled a huge blaze at Wareham Forest in 2020, has backed the move.

The PSPO means anyone caught by patrols carried out by the council and Forestry England will face a £100 fine.

Forestry England already had a ban on any kind of disposable barbecues and fires on its land.

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