THE cause of the fire which destroyed 130-hectares of woods and heathland in Purbeck is under investigation.

Around 100 firefighters battled the blaze overnight, which took hold at Rempstone Heath, near Corfe Castle.

Initial calls came into Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) just before midnight on Tuesday, but it took five hours to bring the blaze - which was fanned by strong winds - under control.

At its height DWFRS had 15 fire engines, six Land Rovers and two water carriers on scene.

DWFRS station manager Stephen Broad told the Daily Echo access to the fire, and strong winds that caused it to spread quickly, proved problematic throughout the incident.

He explained: "We had to travel around a mile down a dirt track to get to it, and the only means of access was by 4x4.

"It was a mixture of healthland and woodland that was on fire."

No-one was injured during the night, and firefighters were back on scene yesterday morning to continue dampening down, despite the heavy rain which Mr Broad said helped extinguish the flames.

The land is owned, roughly half and half, by the Rempstone Estate and the National Trust.

Jon Bish from the National Trust said: "We are very grateful to Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service for working hard through the night to protect our precious heathland."

Meanwhile, a Rempstone Estate spokesman said she was "eternally grateful to the fire brigade for an absolutely fabulous service."

Mr Broad told the Echo that an investigation into the cause of the blaze was being carried out.

He added: "The first crews called had to drive past the viewpoint and saw the fire from there. They realised it was substantial, so the initial incident commander requested 15 fire engines and two water carriers.

"The wind was our main problem.

"We stood a lot of crews down at 5am, we had a lot of very tired firefighters."