Wildfires have torn through the forest best known for inspiring the Hundred Acre Wood in children’s classic Winnie The Pooh.
The forest, in east Sussex, was consumed by flames earlier today (February 26) as two separate fires started within an hour of each other.
The wildfires in the forest, called Ashdown Forest, come as today was officially confirmed as the hottest February day on record.
Firefighters said more than 35 hectares of woodland had been affected in the blaze, with both fires spreading throughout the day.
The fires are being blamed on the ‘unusually warm weather this week’, with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service saying conditions contributed to the ground being drier than usual, leading to a greater risk of outdoor fires.
At least 65 firefighters are confirmed to be on site, with seven fire crews – including specialist Land Rovers – rushing to Nutley after the first fire was reported at 12:31pm.
Another four fire crews were dispatched to the scene after a second blaze broke out less than two miles away at 1:37pm.
A spokesman for the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said the second fire saw flames engulf 200 metres of gorse and undergrowth.
Dramatic pictures show smoke billowing from the forest known as the Hundred Acre Wood in the book, written by A. A. Milne.
Members of the public were warned to stay away as firefighters continue to battle the fire.
A spokesperson for the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said, as reported by the Eastbourne Herald:
Wildfires in Nutley and Ashdown Forest now under control. Crews damping down for hot spots. Both incidents due to be scaled back at dusk.
Farm machinery used to create fire break and prevent spread. Advice given to those temporarily unable to gain access to property, no injuries.
This isn’t the first time wildfires have ripped through the famous forest; the same thing happened four years ago.
The 2015 blaze was started by a camping stove rather than unusually hot weather, the Daily Mail reports.
The fire slashed the size of Ashdown Forest by around 16 acres, wiping out wildlife and shrubbery in an area equivalent to nine football pitches. At the time, it was estimated the damaged parts of the forest could take up to ten years to grow back.
We can only hope the forest hasn’t been damaged beyond repair this time.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).