50 firefighters battle fire in Ashdown Forest

FIFTY firefighters battled through Bank Holiday Monday night and Tuesday morning to contain a fire on the Ashdown Forest.

The first call was made to East Sussex Fire and Rescue at 7.02pm on Monday night. Eight appliances were scrambled to the Four Counties car park near Kidds Hill where the first battle to combat the blaze began.

Water tenders, water carriers, Land Rovers and dual purpose trucks attended from Crowborough, Uckfield, Heathfield, Seaford, East Grinstead and Forest Row.

The fire extended to over 20 acres of tinder-dry bracken, gorse and forest land while strong winds made firefighting conditions difficult. But by 4am crews had significantly reduced the fire spread. They remained on the Forest until midday on Monday to check for any hotspots which could have seen it re-ignite.

Incident commander Andy Reynolds said: “Our crews, with the assistance of firefighters from West Sussex, did a fantastic job and managed to avert a major incident by preventing the fire spreading to nearby properties.Crews used firefighting foam to good effect to protect nearby properties and reduce fire spread. Firefighters faced particularly difficult and arduous conditions as the wind rapidly spread the fire, but they worked hard to bring it under control by the early hours of this morning. Sussex Police officers also did a great job warning nearby residents that they may have to leave their properties if the fire got too close.”

It’s believed the fire started after people used a barbecue carelessly.

Andy went on: “Nationally, every year, fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Some fires are started deliberately, but most are due to carelessness. If you are using a barbecue please ensure they are put out at the end of the meal and placed in a safe area where the risk of fire is significantly reduced. Once you’ve put the barbecue out, make sure you dispose of it safely and always follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.”