POLICE have appealed for information following a fire which destroyed more than 12 hectares of heathland.

Officers have joined forces with firefighters to investigate the cause of the blaze at Verwood.

Dorset Police was made aware at around 3pm yesterday that firefighters from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service were in attendance at a fire in the area of Boveridge Heath in Verwood.

It was the second heath fire in the East Dorset area reported that afternoon following an earlier incident off Hurn Road at St Leonards and St Ives.

A total of around 150 firefighters were involved.

Inspector Simon Perry, of North and East Dorset police, said: "We are continuing to liaise with the fire service to establish the full circumstances and the cause of this fire, which has caused substantial damage to a large area of heathland.

"At this time the cause of the fire remains unexplained and to assist our enquiries I would urge anyone who was in the area at the time and has any information as to how the fire started to please contact us.

Huge heath fires in Verwood and St Leonard's

"I would also like to hear from anyone who was driving in the area and may have captured anything of relevance on dashcam.

"Finally, I would like to thank the fire service and all those involved in tackling the fire for their swift response, which prevented the damage from being even worse."

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Police will continue to carry out patrols in the area and firefighters have issued the following advice:

• Avoid campfires and using barbecues in the countryside. If you must have a fire, make sure that you’re in a designated safe area.

• Put out cigarettes and other smoking materials properly.

• Do not throw cigarette ends out of your vehicle. They could start a fire and destroy surrounding countryside.

• If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately on 999. Do not tackle a fire yourself, unless it can be put out with a bucket of water. Please call the fire service and leave the area as soon as possible.

• Ensure that you know your location or a landmark so you can direct the fire service.

Information to Dorset Police on 101, quoting occurrence number 55210069298, or the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.