Cumbrian fire crews’ long fight to control peat blaze

Cumbrian fire crews’ long fight to control peat blaze

27 June 2009

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United Kingdom —

The 500sq metre area of peat caught fire on Wednesday evening and was then put out.

But because the peat was highly oxygenated, it continued to burn underground, and the fire re-emerged at around 10.30am yesterday.

Smoke could be seen billowing across the Wedholme Moss area near Kirkbride Airfield, which is a former peat farm owned by conservation body Natural England.

Reserve warden Chris Mawby said: “There’s not a lot of life in the area affected, but the habitat was starting to recover and that will take quite a bit of time to come again.”

Fire crews from Carlisle and Wigton struggled for a water source to stop the peat – which had cooled sufficiently for officers to walk across – from burning.

Watch manager Jeff Pears said: “It’s time-consuming. We were here for three hours the other day, and it was much more confined on that occasion.

“The trouble is that it burns underground.”

It is thought the fire could have been caused by the sun being concentrated on the ground by a bottle left on the peat, or by a discarded cigarette butt.

There were no animals in the area, and relatively few plants.

The site is used by ramblers, and has marker posts dotted around the area.

However, the fire would have little effect as it was contained to the 500 sq metre area.

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