Northumberland, England, UK — A newly formed group hopes to help stamp out the spread of wild fires like the blaze that took hold of a 20-acre wood near Rothbury last week. Fire crews spent four days battling with the blaze at Open Stone Plantation, which started on Thursday.
The joint operation between Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, the Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Defence also saw RAF Boulmer helicopters drop water on the raging flames.
On Tuesday, workers remained to continue damping down any hot spots to prevent another fire from flaring up.
The huge operation was made even tougher with the rough terrain and difficulty accessing the fire.
Lee Buckingham, of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, was one of the first to attend the scene.
He said: “The problem we had was access, which proved to be the largest problem.
“It was a mile and a half of undulating ground, which made it very difficult to get to. This was supported by the dry weather and very little water was available making the ground so dry.
“The peat also meant the fire was travelling underground through rabbit holes and reappearing some distance away.”
But following the imminent launch of Northumberland Fire Group, it is hoped that blazes like these will be contained and extinguished quicker and easier.
Kate Hutchinson, project officer, said the group, a joint initiative between the rural community, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service Forest Enterprise and Northwoods, has been a year in the making.
She said: “When wildfire like this occurs often land owners don’t have a fire plan and lack vital documents that tell you who to call, where the nearest water supply is and other information like that.
“One thing that the group is going to do is get a plan in place and get people to fill them in and make sure the fire services get sent copies.
“With wild fires the big problem is the land managers who run the sites and are aware of vital information about terrain and ecology often don’t have any contact with fire crews and the fire service is unable to take instructions from them.
“When a fire like this occurs the exact aim of the group is to be able to establish a line of communication and get the fire under control quicker, which will cause less damage and make operations a lot easier.”
The cause of the fire is currently unknown. The fire service is asking the public to exercise additional care when using camp fires and holding barbecues. l The Fire Group is a network of people and resources brought together to provide better protection from the threat posed by rural wild fires.
It will establish firm lines of communication, provide relevant training and create an efficient and effective group of individuals capable of controlling wild fires.
The group recently secured funding from Defra, Draeger Safety UK Ltd, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, the Forestry Commission and Northumberland National Park.
To get involved with the group or to find out more, contact Kate on 01669 621489.