Walkers hampered crews at forest fire

Walkers hampered crews at forest fire

24 February 2012

published by www.thisissussex.co.uk

United Kingdom — THIRTY firefighters tackled an Ashdown Forest fire at the weekend, but their work was hampered by curious walkers trying to get a look at the flames.

Five fire crews were sent to the incident at Millbrook Hill, Nutley, on Sunday at 2.31pm. The affected area was the size of three football pitches. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service watch commander Andrew Tolkien said it was lucky no-one was hurt as the good weather had attracted a large number of weekend walkers to the forest.

“The worrying thing was the public walking down there to have a look and we were offering the advice to stay away as the fire can outrun you,” he said. “If there is a forest fire, people should call 999 to notify the fire service and then stay away.”

Three appliances along with three Land Rover pump engines, which are designed to act as a lightweight fire-fighting appliance for accessing remote areas, went to the scene. Each was fitted with a water tank and pump, hoses and equipment.

Mr Tolkien added: “There has not been a lot of rain this winter so the foliage is very dry. All you need is a discarded cigarette and a bit of wind to fan the flames for a fire to start.”

Tracy Buxton, administrator for Ashdown Forest, said the damage had only been superficial. She said the cause of the fire had not been established and was still under investigation.

“There is nothing to suggest it was arson,” she said.

Wealden district councillor Roy Galley lives close to the scene in Chelwood Gate Road.

He said: “I saw quite a lot of smoke but believe it was brought under control fairly quickly. Over the years we have had some pretty big fires but I don’t think this one caused too much damage.”

Firefighters remained at the scene until 4.10pm


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