United Kingdom — It took more than five hours for the flames to go out and trains had to be stopped while the power supply was switched off
A huge fire in a bog which could be seen from miles around was sparked by electricity arching from nearby poles.
The shocking scene unfolded at Borth, near Aberystwyth , today as huge flames emanated from the wet bog, fuelled by the peat underneath.
The raging fire in a hectare of bogland was reported at 5.20am and was finally out five hours later.
Trains had to be temporarily stopped from going to Aberystwyth while the electricity was switched off.
Bryn Jones, 59, who has lived in Borth for 40 years said he had never seen the bog on fire before.
He said: Its quite a sight. Weve had floods, hurricanes, rain, and now a fire. The village has been battered recently and this is just unbelievable.
I got up at about 7am when it was still dark, and I could see a line of flame. As it got lighter, we could see it was in the middle of the bog. Peat is a highly combustible material and it could burn for a long time. Its pretty incredible when you think of the water weve had.
Mr Jones said the strip of fire across the bog was about half a mile long.
Borth resident Rachel Hubbard tweeted: Borth bog seems to be on fire. Rain. Wind. Storms. Fire. Plague next?
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MWWFR) said three appliances were sent to the scene earlier and one appliance from Aberystwyth remained at the site to ensure the flames were under control.
MWWFRs Alan Jones said: The electricity from the poles has arched. The wind from the sea has hit the cables causing the electricity to arch – like a lightning strike.
We had to shut the electricity off and it meant that the trains were also stopped from going in the Aberystwyth area.
“The railway line acted as a breaker for the fire. The cables had not fallen, but because of the wind, the water and salt from the sea and in the air could have contributed.
Around 15 firefighters from Aberystwyth and Borth were called to the scene.
Mr Jones said: We monitored the fire because it wasnt safe to tackle it. There were a lot of holes in the bog and it was quite dangerous. We made a risk assessment and decided that it wasnt safe.
Photographer Harry Charnock who lives in Talybont said: It was a massive fire. It was very strange, appearing to go straight along. Apparently it was caused the electricity poles. Its a hell of a sight.
His sister, Rebecca Charnock, undergraduate tutor at Aberystwyth University , said the bog was very important for ecological reasons and she hoped that the fire would not have caused lasting damage.
Ms Charnock said: It is a huge store of carbon. Its very important because it contains species such as the purple moor grass – molinia caerulea.
Dr Christian Dunn who runs the Wetland Science and Conservation MSc at Bangor University said:Peat can burn incredibly well because its mainly just rotting dead plants.
This is why its been burnt for centuries as a fuel and why we see big peatland fires from time to time on our mountainsides.
But usually these are in the summer as the peat has to be dry to burn well, so to see the scale of these fires now is very surprising.
He said it may be that the area of peatland has drainage channels cut into it and the strong winds hade helped dry off the top layer.
Dr Dunn said: Occurrences like this highlight the importance of looking after our peatlands in Wales they provide too many valuable services to see them go up in flames.
For instance they can store vast amounts of carbon even more than forests helping to slow down climate change.
Plus, in some cases they can help stop flooding by acting as a giant sponges soaking up the water.”
He added: With the recent flooding across the country its essential that we continue to look at how best we can manage all our peatlands and wetlands in Wales in order to maximise their uses.
Wetlands are an integral part of our environment; not only providing havens for wildlife but also as key controllers of flooding, pollution, drinking water quality and even the climate itself.