Shropshire Star

'Fantastic' effort prevents large Church Stretton wildfire spreading to bird nesting sites

A 'fantastic' effort from fire crews prevented a large wildfire in Shropshire from spreading to nearby bird nesting sites and a medieval monument.

Last updated
The blaze near Church Stretton. Pics: Church Stretton Fire Station

A number of 999 calls were made to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service at just after 5pm on Tuesday reporting the wildfire at Cwmdale, near Church Stretton.

Firefighters were met with a large fire measuring approximately 400 sq m. They set to work damping down and checking the area for hotspots.

The extent of the fire. Photo: Phil Davies
The blaze near Church Stretton. Photo: Church Stretton Fire Station
The blaze near Church Stretton. Photo: Church Stretton Fire Station

Fire crews spent four hours battling the elements as high winds whipped up the flames and trees were set ablaze.

Units were mobilised from Church Stretton, Baschurch, Craven Arms, Shrewsbury, Newport, Tweedale and Ludlow in what was described as a 'committed' effort from all involved.

Phil Davies of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said they managed to prevent the fire from spreading to a Specific Site of Special Interest, a medieval monument and a site for curlew and snipe nesting thanks to the efforts of all those involved.

Paying tribute to the firefighters, he said: "Fantastic offensive and committed fire fighting by all crews to surround, limit and stop fire spread to Specific Sire of Special Interest, scheduled medieval ancient monument and site for Curlew and Snipe nesting."

Postman Mark Norton saw the blaze when he was collecting post from Church Stretton.

"Everyone was standing out in the street, the flames were so high," he said.

Scorched earth at the scene the next day. Photo: Church Stretton Fire Station.
Scorched earth at the scene the next day. Photo: Church Stretton Fire Station.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said there was no indication of a cause at this time but a fire investigation will begin when all firefighting operations have stopped.

Re-inspections took place throughout Tuesday night and crews were still on scene on Wednesday morning as further hot spots were detected.

Jan McKelvey, Head of Conservation Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said: "We are thankful that the fire was put out quickly by the Fire and Rescue crews as the National Trust has strived hard to provide the perfect habitat for a wide range of wildlife on the Long Mynd.

"Gorse is a very valuable habitat for birds such as stonechats and linnets, and many birds will be starting to think about breeding now that spring is round the corner."

Alexandra Blakeman, communications officer at the National Trust added: The National Trust was alerted to a gorse fire at Cwmdale, on the Eastern side of the Long Mynd, at 5pm on 31 January 2023.

"The conservation charity wishes to thank the fire and rescue crews who swiftly responded to the blaze, which covered an area of 300m x 400m on the hill.

"The loss of gorse has threatened a key habitat for lots of wildlife, including ground nesting birds. Responders extinguished the fire at 7pm, before the blaze continued to Nover’s Hill, which is home to a medieval farm enclosure.

"Thankfully, nearby residents and property remained safe and unaffected.

"The cause of the fire is unknown. If you have any more information about the incident, please contact Shropshire West Mercia Police."