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Arson hasn't been ruled out on two separate heath fires in Dorset over the weekend.
In the first blaze, Dorset Fire Service received more than 50 calls from members of the public to a heath fire to the rear of Isaac Close, Talbot Heath just after 1pm on Saturday 24th March.
Approximately 40 firefighters tackled the blaze to bring it under control and ensure that it did not reach the houses to the back of the Close.
An area of approximately 200m x 250m wasdestroyed by the blaze and Incident Commander Richard Coleman said that it was impossible to rule out arson. He said: "The dry conditions means that any spark from a cigarette or BBQ could have caused this, as well as the possibility of arson. We may never know what caused it but it is a very timely reminder to warn people of the very real dangers of any naked flame or spark near tinder dry forest or scrub."
Crews bought the blaze under control in just over two hours.
Meanwhile, a fire on Upton Heath yesterday (Sunday 25th March) damaged a hectare of one of the rarest habitats in Britain, just as the bird and reptile breeding season is getting underway.
The fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately, was reported by a local resident at around 4.30pm, on a central part of the Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve. An area bigger than a football pitch was burnt, before firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control. The damage occurred on an area that escaped the large fire of last June.
Dorset Wildlife Trust warden, Andy Fale, said: "This was a very worrying situation, with such dry conditions and right in the middle of the heath. Without the swift action of Dorset Fire and Rescue, it could have developed into a major disaster for wildlife just as birds are nesting and reptiles are up and about. We are very grateful to the local residents who sounded the alarm and helped prevent further destruction of this vulnerable habitat. We would appeal to local people who visit Upton Heath regularly to consider joining our new Heathwatch scheme to help us stop this happening again."