News release text
Fire crews are appealing to the public to be extra careful when disposing of cigarette ends, following a fire in Hempstead Forest, Benenden yesterday morning (8 July 2013).
A dog walker discovered the blaze at just after 7.00am.
Two fire appliances and a water unit were sent to the scene and firefighters spent several hours extinguishing the blaze, which spread to approximately one acre of woodland. They remained on the scene until around 12.30pm damping down hotspots.
Crews believe the fire started accidently and most likely caused by a discarded cigarette that set light to dried tree debris and pine needles on the forest floor.
Cranbrook Watch Manager Colin Gambrell said: “The recent period of hot, dry weather means that fires of this type can spread very rapidly due to tinder-dry conditions and a dropped cigarette end can lead to a deep seated fire that can take a long time to fully extinguish. Such blazes put an enormous drain on our fire-fighting resources, as well as causing damage to the local environment and a threat to wildlife in the area.”
He added: “We are asking the public to help prevent further fires by ensuring they dispose of cigarettes in a responsible manner. Also, as countryside fires can be a challenge to locate, it would be really helpful if anyone who spots and reports a fire can give as much information about where it is, and where possible arrange to meet oncoming crews to direct them to the incident.”