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Gust of wind turns bonfire into six-acre blaze in the Clee Hills

South Shropshire | News | Published:

A gust of wind turned a small, controlled bonfire into a six-acre blaze on Shropshire Wildlife Trust land.

The dry gorse on Catherton Common in the Clee Hills, near Cleobury Mortimer, was completely destroyed, but reserve officer Clive Dean said in the long run it could prove to be positive for the wildlife in the area.

"We had a small bonfire, there were fire beaters and two or three people around the fire – then a gust of wind came from the wrong direction," he said.

"It quickly got taller and we couldn't control it."

"The fire brigade got there in 20 minutes, which was impressive because we were in a very difficult spot to access. There were no tracks or roads, but we still got most of it under control.

"The wet areas were easier to put out, but in the end our volunteers and the fire service managed to get it all put out.

"We were well away from any property and there was no long-term damage." Rather than be upset about the five or six acres of burned gorse and undergrowth, Clive said it could be good for Catherton "In terms of the wildlife in the area, it might actually benefit from this," he said of the situation.

"We're planning to monitor it for the next few years and see what we get coming back.

"It's burned an area of what was dense gorse – that's why the fire was uncontrollable. Once the heat gets in there, it's hard to get rid of it. We were here to treat and cut it back in the first place.

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"We were considering starting to do some controlled burning anyway, but we definitely weren't planning for this to happen.

"Gorse tends to dominate.

"It has damaged the five or six acres of gorse, but to put that into context that's only about one per cent of the reserve

"Compared to the land we manage, it's quite a small area."

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