Wareham Forest fire flare-ups continue to spread after six days
May. 23, 2020
Strong winds are still helping spread a forest fire which has been burning for six days in Dorset.
More than 150 firefighters remain at Wareham Forest dealing with hotspots and flare-ups. About 500 acres (200 hectares) have so far been damaged.
A helicopter was brought in to "water bomb" the area as smoke drifted as far as Bournemouth.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) said winds of up to 45mph were proving a "huge risk".
Officials have urged people to avoid the area.
Image copyright Dorset Police Image caption A Dorset Police drone image shows the extent of the devastation
The blaze, which started on Monday , may initially have been started by a disposable barbecue or camp fire , investigators believe.
DWFRS said it had maintained a "significant presence" overnight, following further flare-ups on Friday.
"The strong winds of yesterday, which are continuing today, present a huge risk and have led to multiple hotspots flaring up and some fire spread," it said.
It repeated calls for members of the public to stay away from the area for walking or cycling.
"There are lots of vehicle movements, and miles of hose stretching along roads and paths. Even if an area looks safe, we cannot guarantee that it is. Firefighters are working incredibly hard, in arduous conditions, to bring this fire under control," the service said.
Image copyright Dorset Police Image caption Firefighters have been dealing with hotspots and flare-ups across the forest fire site
The service also has volunteers patrolling other nearby heath land sites on bikes, including at Upton Heath and Canford Heath.
An amber alert for wildfire also remains in place for the weekend, meaning if another wildfire broke out it could spread quickly and easily due to the dry and windy conditions.
One third of the 3,700-acre forest is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is home to rare birds, plants and invertebrates.
On Wednesday, Forestry England estimated it could take the forest "decades" to recover.
Image copyright DWFRS Image caption Firefighters continued to douse flare-ups early on Saturday morning
Image copyright DWFRS Image caption The fire service said 11 disposable BBQs were found in the area
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