Investigation to find cause of big Shropshire beauty spot blaze
Fire investigators are working to establish what started a huge fire at a beauty spot in Shropshire which took more than 50 firefighters to tackle.
The fire, which engulfed woodland known as The Bog, near Stiperstones, had spread over six hectares of land by the time it was put out, and was one of the biggest fires in the open in recent years.
Fire services from Wales and Lancashire were also called to assist Shropshire crews, with a dozen fire appliances, including six fire engines and a further six water carriers and specialist vehicles attending.
The fire spread over rural woodland and crews say they do not yet know the cause of the fire, which started close to Minsterley Shooting Range at about 2.45pm on Tuesday.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service were called upon to send their drone to take aerial footage of the fire.
The footage meant firefighters could see exactly where it was spreading to among the trees and bushes.
Crews surrounded the fire on Tuesday evening and were dampening it down throughout the night and into yesterday morning.
The fire was completely out by yesterday afternoon but Shropshire Fire and Rescue said it maintained a watching brief throughout the day and into last night to make sure it did not re-ignite.
Malcolm Stevenson, of Shropshire Fire and Rescue, said: “We scaled back the crews a lot. Once the fire is out we’re being very careful to make sure it is completely dampened down and doesn’t spread.
“We’re keeping a very close eye on it and we’ve been able to keep only a couple of fire appliances up there in case it were to spread.
“The under-earth is very dry and still carries a lot of heat and even if you can’t see it, the fire can still pop up in a different place and start again.
“There will be half a dozen if not more firefighters up there ensuring the situation is under control, and they won’t leave until they are more than happy that it is safe.”
West Mercia Police closed off the nearest roads and worked alongside fire crews and Severn Trent Water to get the fire under control.
The fire service also filled a huge portable water container with 8,000 litres of water to use if needed.
"The difficulty in a fire such as this was the rural area it was in,” added Mr Stevenson.
“We had a job just ensuring the fire crews were able to get to and from the fire quickly and safely.
“Thankfully we had the help of Lancashire’s drone to give us an extra view, but it was a very difficult spot to work in.
“It was a challenging location for the firefighters and everyone involved as the underfoot was very difficult, the woodland was dense and there was no obvious water source for us to use.
“Visibility was low at the best of times which brought risks in itself.
“This was very much a multi-agency effort.
“We had all the emergency services alongside Severn Trent working together to bring their individual expertise to the incident.
“The fire was no doubt serious, but had the potential to be very serious indeed, but everyone did a terrific job and tackled it with vigour to deal with one of the biggest fires in the open we’ve seen a long time.”
Crews will now continue to maintain a watching brief over the woodland until they are sure there is no risk of the fire flaring up again.
An investigation will take place to try to ascertain the original cause of the fire.