AN arson investigation has been launched following a fire at Bourne Valley Nature Reserve.

Now police have appealed for help to identify a teenage boy seen emerging from bushes shortly before the fire started.

Dorset Police received a report from the fire service at around 6pm on Saturday May 9 in relation to a fire at the Bourne Valley Nature Reserve.

Smoke could be seen for several miles as crews from across the county made their way to the scene.

The fire is believed to have started near the entrance at the Bloxworth Road end of the reserve and a witness reported seeing a teenager emerging from bushes in the area just before the blaze.

The boy was described as white, aged around 15 or 16 and about five feet nine inches tall. He was wearing a baseball cap and navy blue tracksuit with ‘EA7’ on the front.

A significant area of heathland was damaged by the fire.

Police Constable Matthew Batter, of Poole police, said: “We have been liaising with the fire service and are continuing to investigate this incident.

“We are treating it as a suspected arson and I would urge anyone with information about who is responsible, or who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area around the time of the incident, to please contact us.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind parents to make sure they know where there children are, especially in light of the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions.”

Information to Dorset Police on 101, quoting occurrence number 55200065675, or teh free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.