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Area of Ham Common will take 10 years to recover after blaze
ONE hectare of protected heathland was destroyed in the wildfire which forced police to close part of the beach near Hamworthy’s Ham Common on Thursday.
More than 70 firefighters and ten vehicles tackled the blaze, which was brought under control after two tense hours. At one point thick smoke was blown towards Rockley Park and scores of holidaymakers, who were enjoying the beauty spot near Lake Drive, were moved off the beach for safety reasons.
Initially it was feared the fire was deliberate but Dorset Police, who have since launched an investigation into Thursday afternoon’s incident, say the cause does not appear malicious at this time.
Ham Common, which has already had two other heathland fires this summer, is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a special conservation area.
Borough of Poole nature conservation officer Jez Martin said: “Because the fire was so hot many of the roots have been killed off. So for some of the area it will take about 10 years to recover, other bits will be a lot longer than that.”
In July there was a larger fire at Ham Common, which investigators suspected was started maliciously. Two weeks before that there was a much smaller fire.
“We’ve had these three fires at Ham Common, and now the burnt areas have joined together, making it even worse for wildlife,” Mr Martin said.
Praising Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and the police, he said: “They did great work to limit how far the fire advanced northwards from the beach. They had to deal with very difficult terrain.”
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