FIFTY firefighters battled a huge blaze on heathland near Wimborne on Sunday.

A 500m x 500m area of the Cannon Hill Plantation was destroyed – despite fire crews battling for more than two hours to keep the flames under control.

The emergency services received multiple calls reporting the rapidly spreading fire shortly before 11.30am.

Speaking at the scene, station manager Richard Coleman, of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, told the Daily Echo that the cause had not yet been established – but that the police had been notified and were investigating.

He said seven fire engines from across the county along with a further six Land Rover units had been deployed to the scene.

“It was a well-developed and growing heath fire when the first crews arrived,” he said, explaining that the blaze’s remote location made the use of off-road vehicles essential.

“We have had around 50 firefighters here using hose reel jets and beaters. We estimate that around 500m x 500m of land has been affected.”

Station manager Coleman said that the crew’s first task on arrival, after gaining access to the remote spot, was to stop the flames from spreading, as they were nearing the edge of a gap in the trees and heath.

“This was hard and dangerous work for the crews,” he added.

“But the heath here is an important community asset and worth saving.”

The stop message, indicating that the fire was under control, was sent at 1.23pm.

Some of the crews, however, remained deep into the afternoon to dampen down the site and guard against further outbreaks of fire.