THE MASSIVE heath fire at Studland has finally been fully extinguished, three days after it ripped through around five hectares of the peninsula.

Crews from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have now left the scene of the blaze which started on Friday afternoon (August 12) and thanked the range of official bodies who aided their efforts.

They have, however, also described the actions of some visitors who ignored ‘no parking’ signs and even moved hoses as “unbelievable”.

At the height of the incident, there were approximately 90 firefighters tackling the flames, drawn from across the Dorset service area and from neighbouring Hampshire and Isle of Wight services.

Bournemouth Echo: Studland heath fire. Picture: Swanage Fire StationStudland heath fire. Picture: Swanage Fire Station (Image: Swanage Fire Station)

The fire has caused significant damage to an area of almost five hectares of National Trust nature reserve, and was most likely caused by misuse of a disposable barbecue and campfire – both of which are banned on the peninsula.

Group Manager Brad Stevens said: “This was a difficult and protracted fire to bring under control, and I cannot praise enough our crews for their hard work in extremely hot conditions.

“Thanks must go to the Salvation Army, for looking after us so well across the weekend; to the National Trust, the Sandbanks chain ferry and the Coastguard for their support throughout the incident; and also colleagues at Dorset Council, BCP Council and Dorset Police – this truly was a multi-agency effort, with many other partners from within the Local Resilience Forum also being involved at various levels.”

While the majority of people enjoying the sunshine at Studland over the weekend cooperated fully with the necessary restrictions put in place to keep them and firefighters safe, there were some who ignored ‘no parking’ signs by parking over and even moving hoses used to extinguish hotspots.

Dorset Police said on Saturday it had received reports of 300 drivers parking along Ferry Road despite being told not to.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a campfire and barbecue after they were discovered at the scene of the fire.

GM Stevens added: “To have found evidence of a campfire and disposable barbecue at the heart of the fire was staggering, given the ban in that location, the many signs around the area, and the on-going media focus on the tinder-dry conditions and fire risk.

“To then have that exacerbated by people ignoring the parking restrictions and even moving our equipment to make way for their cars was unbelievable. Parking fines were issued in many cases, and some cars were towed away, but we must again urge people to be aware of what is happening around them, and to work with us when incidents like this happen.”

Bournemouth Echo: A car being towed at Studland on Saturday. Picture: Purbeck Police.A car being towed at Studland on Saturday. Picture: Purbeck Police.

Although rain is expected this week, the dry conditions mean even the smallest fire will spread far more quickly than usual.

Tips issued by the service to avoid such disasters include:

  • Don’t have barbecues or campfires on heath or in open spaces
  • Bring picnics or use local cafés
  • Extinguish cigarettes properly, and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home.
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, get to a safe place and call 999 to report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Provide as much detail as possible about location

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