08 Aug ‘Major incident’ declared as Surrey wildfire forces 120 people to leave homes | UK News
A “major incident” has been declared as firefighters continue to tackle a huge wildfire in Surrey, which has forced 120 people to leave their homes.
The blaze – which broke out on Friday afternoon and covered 150 acres of land at its peak – is still burning, a Surrey Fire and Rescue spokesman told Sky News.
The flames started in Chobham Common before spreading to Wentworth golf course, halting play in the Rose Ladies Series Grand Final tournament on Friday.
Sixty properties in Berkshire were evacuated on Friday night due to smoke from the blaze, affecting about 120 people, the fire spokesman said.
They will not be allowed to return to their homes on Saturday as several smaller fires continue to burn, he added.
⚠️Major incident – Chobham Common, Heath Fire – Relief crews are now proceeding from across Surrey to continue fire-fighting operations. Local roads remain closed by @SurreyPolice – Please remain clear of Chobham Common. Further updates to follow ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/6LWzBhNmgQ
— Surrey Fire & Rescue Service (@SurreyFRS) August 8, 2020
About 30 fire engines and emergency vehicles were sent to tackle the blaze at the height of the flames and crews are expected to remain at the scene until early next week, he added.
Friday saw the hottest August day in 17 years, with the mercury hitting 36.4C (97.5F) at Heathrow, while temperatures on Saturday were expected to reach a potential 36C (96.8F) in places.
The Surrey Wildlife Trust said “our heathlands are currently at extreme risk of wildfire” as it urged people not to light barbecues, leave litter or drop cigarettes.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who is MP for Surrey Heath, said: “I’m horrified by the damage this wildfire has done to Chobham Common – and hope people will heed this evacuation warning – thanks to Surrey Fire and Rescue service for their bravery in tackling this terrible tragedy.”
Griff Ryan, who lives near to the blaze, said the fire began with a “strange light” at around 1pm on Friday before he saw a “wall of flames”.
“Smoke got gradually worse and ash began falling into our garden,” he said.
“Over about half an hour it’s become visible and now [I] can see a wall of flames down towards the railway line.
“Other residents I’ve spoken to have said it’s the worst they’ve seen in 30 years.”
Smoke from the fire was visible well over 10 miles away and had earlier been mistakenly thought to be coming from Heathrow airport by some on social media.