THE cause of the wildfire that left this huge black scar on Poole’s Talbot Heath is being investigated, after youngsters were spotted running from the scene as firefighters arrived.

Around 50 firefighters tackled the blaze which destroyed ten hectares of protected heathland and threatened nearby homes.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) sent 11 appliances to the incident, which was reported shortly after 6pm on Monday evening. The smoke was visible across the conurbation.

Yesterday, the DWFRS confirmed the heath fire had been reported to police after several young people were seen running from the area.

Meanwhile, Dorset Police also told the Daily Echo officers were investigating the circumstances surrounding the wildfire.

Local residents told the Echo they were not surprised the fire took hold. Harold McIntyre, a Poole local who regularly walks on the heath, said: “The ground is just so dry and all it takes is a spark.

“We more or less get at least one fire every summer up here.

“A lot of the time it is kids, but it can also be simple carelessness as well.”

DWFRS station manager Stuart Gillingham, who attended Monday’s heath fire, urged people to be cautious while using the conurbation’s heaths.

He said: “We urge people to be mindful of bonfires, barbecues and any fires in the open.”

Meanwhile, Purbeck Police issued a warning that heathlands have become ‘tinderboxes’ after a separate blaze at Slepe Heath, near Arne, on Saturday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Purbeck’s neighbourhood policing team said: “The extremely dry conditions have turned the heathlands into tinderboxes, making the land very susceptible to fire.

“Both accidental and deliberate fires can prove disastrous for the heathland and potentially deadly, not only to visitors but to staff and emergency service personnel that have to deal with them.”

The officer urged visitors to “please be mindful that one thoughtless action could lead to a catastrophic chain of events.”

Open fires should be avoided and cigarettes should not be discarded from car windows or on the ground, the spokesperson said. Glass bottles or reflective materials should also be property disposed of.

Talbot Heath is home to sand lizards, adders and ground-nesting birds. It is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest, part of the larger Bourne Valley Nature Reserve.