Ashdown Forest fire prompts warning from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

VISITORS to Ashdown Forest have been warned to take care after a fire which burned through four acres near Nutley on Sunday.

Around 30 firefighters from Forest Row, Uckfield, Crowborough, Heathfield and East Grinstead together with colleagues from West Sussex were scrambled to the incident which was reported just after 2.30pm. They remained until 4.14pm to tackle the four acres of forest fire and the incident was brought under control by 3.31pm.

Three appliances were mobilised along with three Land Rover pump appliances, which are designed to act as a lightweight fire-fighting appliance ideal for accessing rural and remote areas. T

he Land Rover is fitted with a water tank and pump, hoses and equipment to be able to cope with most small rural fires.

Watch commander Andrew Tolkien said: “Forest fires can be miles away from the road and this is when we use the Land Rovers, as opposed to fire engines.

“It was a lovely sunny afternoon and everyone thought ‘let’s go out’ so there were a lot of people in 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. So in future, if there is a forest fire, call 999 to notify the fire service and please stay away and let the emergency services deal with it.

“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.”

The cause of the fire has not been established yet and is still under investigation.

When visiting the Forest or going for country walks, East Sussex Fire and Rescue advise people to make sure they put cigarettes out properly and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground.

They say open fires should not be lit in the countryside, nor should bottles or glass be left in woodland as sunlight shining through glass can start fires.

Barbecues should only be used in suitable and safe areas and should never be left unattended.

If anyone sees a fire in the countryside they should report it to the emergency services immediately. And they should not tackle fires that can’t be put out quickly and easily with a bucket of water and if the fire is any larger they should leave the area immediately.