Firefighters who just put a large forest fire in Wareham Forest, Dorset said they believe visitors who started a barbecue are responsible for the fire which burned through 480 acres of protected forest.
As investigators searched for clues behind the fire, they stumbled upon disposable barbecues that visitors must have used in the burned grounds of the forest. They believe that fire ignited the already very dry forest floor which caused a major fire that has killed thousands of animals.
Wareham forest has been designated by the British government as a site of special scientific interest. The reptile population in the forest is one known for its diversity and rarity in the United Kingdom.
The big forest fire was first reported to officials earlier this week on Monday. Initial reports said that the fire was started by special activities, meaning that it didn’t begin because of a natural cause such as a lightning bolt.
A strong breeze together with a dried up forest floor meant that the conditions were ripe for the fire to spread. Local news reported that at point the fire grew so big that it managed to jump across a street to a new patch of forest. It took 150 firefighters two days to completely extinguish the fire.
Not only did large numbers of trees burned down because of the fire, but also many reptiles that inhabited the forest have perished as a result of the fire. Daily Mail reports that grass snakes, along with various lizards were the most notable species found in the forest.
An official from Dorset Fire and Rescue said that while the exact cause or perpetrator can’t be identified at this point, they are sure that the fire was started because of human activities. They cited the barbecue grills, glass bottles and soot from campfires as evidence.
Another official explained that the public has no access to the area where the barbecues were found as it is protected for scientific purposes. Local police has begun investigating into the case.
Biologists lament how the fire came at the most unfortunate time because many birds were nesting their eggs and younglings in the trees that burned down. This means that the parent birds would have been forced to desert their chicks to save themselves from the fire.
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