Police investigate cause of massive Walney gorse fire

Police investigate cause of massive Walney gorse fire
24 October 2011

published by www.nwemail.co.uk

United Kingdom — The fire ripped through 10,000 square metres of grassland at Tummerhill, between Ocean Road and Sandy Gap, on Walney.

The firefighters’ quick actions saved nearby Walney Island FC’s pitches and clubhouse.

Firefighter Mike Wilkinson said: “When we arrived, 10,000 square metres of gorse and grass were alight.

“It was about five metres away from the pitch.

“If we hadn’t stopped it from spreading, then it would have got the football building.”

Six teams use the two pitches and clubhouse.

Youth team Walney Under 13s were still able to play on the pitches in their Lancashire Cup tie yesterday morning.

Walney Island FC club secretary, Mike Austin, said: “It had come quite close.

“But it hasn’t done any damage to anything of ours.”

Police said they were investigating the cause of the fire.

Sergeant Rupert Anderson said: “It is always difficult with fires like that one.

“A lot of the evidence is burned but any forensic possibilities would be followed up as part of the inquiries.

“We are looking into every possibility.”

Residents watched the firefighters fight the flames.

Shearwater Crescent resident, Paddy McAteer, said: “The gorse fields just across from us were blazing away.

“We were watching them put it out.

“It was well ablaze. I have never seen it like that before.

“There has been small fires before but this was really blazing.”

Barrow’s mayor, Councillor John Murphy, said the gorse fields were an important habitat for wildlife.

And although birds will have migrated away from the site, he is worried about rodents which may have been hibernating in the fields.

He said: “There have been fires in the area since I was a youngster.

“It seems to be a popular area for fires and I can go back 50 years.

“Those particular gorse fields are a fantastic habitat for birds.

“It is a great habitat for local wildlife.

“It’s a shame.”

Three fire engines, two from Barrow and one from Walney, went to the scene just after 9pm on Saturday.

The Walney pump and one of the Barrow ones went straight to the blaze from a van fire at Thorney Nook Lane which they were called to at 8.38pm.

Police are appealing for witnesses to both incidents.

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