Investigation finds probable cause of Wareham Forest Fire

Investigation finds probable cause of Wareham Forest Fire

Published by George Sharpe at 1:29pm 21st May 2020. (Updated at 3:17pm 21st May 2020)

Disposable barbecues, campfires and glass bottles found in Wareham Forest

Following an investigation, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service believe the fire was caused by 'social activity' in the forest.

Dorset Police say the fire is not being treated as malicious.

190 hectares of heath and forest was burned in the blaze which started on Monday afternoon.

Over 150 firefighters were on scene at the peak of the emergency response.

Wareham Forest Satellite
Satellite image. The darker area shows 190 hectare area affected by forest fire.

A spokesperson for the Fire Service said:

"Following a fire investigation, which has been ongoing since Monday, we now believe the cause of this fire to be accidental, due to social activity in the forest. While we cannot pinpoint the exact cause, we have found evidence of multiple disposable barbecues, campfires and glass bottles.

"Due to the current weather and weekend forecast, we have received an AMBER alert for wildfire. This means that, should we experience another wildfire, it could spread quickly and easily due to the dry and windy conditions.

"As we have seen here, wildfires take a great deal of resources and time to bring under control. Please stay fire-aware when out and about and please stay vigilant.

Wareham Forest Fire
Glass bottle found in Wareham Forest

BBQ's are illegal on heathland and the Fire Service is urging the public to avoid barbecues and campfires - especially during the hot weather:

"In light of all of this, PLEASE do not have campfires or use disposable barbecues in our forests and heathlands. As we have seen, the effect can be devastating."

You can find more information about preventing wildfires here.