Surrey ‘major incident’ declared as grass fire ignites

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Surrey ‘major incident’ declared as grass fire ignites
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Watch: Grass fires break out in Surrey and London

Firefighters are to stay overnight to monitor the aftermath of a large grass fire at a Surrey beauty spot.

At least eight hectares of land were affected by the blaze that started around midday at Hankley Common near Farnham on Sunday.

A major incident was declared and although that has now ended, people are still being warned to avoid the area.

There were separate blazes in Rammey Marsh, Enfield, at Cranford Park, Hayes, and at Burgate in Suffolk.

In Surrey, people reported seeing smoke over Guildford, Woking and Addlestone and on the M25 near Chertsey.

Firefighters were called just after midday and the fire service has said it expects crews to remain at the scene until at least Monday. The cause of the blaze is unknown.

People are being asked to call 999 only if they see fire but not to report smoke.

Surrey Police tweeted that it was assisting fire crews and had closed Thursley Road. The force asked people to stay away while emergency teams have dealt with the incident.

Image source, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

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Smoke from Hankley Common could be seen for miles around

Image source, Alan Johnson

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People were warned about the dangers of a “great deal of smoke”

Flying instructor Jordan Bridge said the blaze was one of the largest he has seen in the area.

The 24-year-old, from Alton in Hampshire, said at about lunchtime he saw “huge smoke clouds building to the east of Lasham Airfield” where he works.

“After take-off I could see that the fire was covering a wide area with the smoke extending downwind over Guildford and Woking towards London,” he added.

“Obviously [I was] concerned for all involved in the local area given the already stretched resources of local fire services.”

Image source, Alan Johnson

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The extent of the blaze on Hankley Common can be seen from this angle

Crews tackled a blaze on the same stretch of land on Wednesday when four hectares of Hankley Common near Elstead caught fire.

After that incident, the service warned that despite overnight rain, more warm weather was expected and vegetation remained extremely dry, urging the public not to use barbeques and to take care.

Hankley Common – known for its appearance in the Bond film Skyfall – is a heathland habitat and home to ground-nesting birds including nightjars and skylarks. It is owned by the Ministry of Defence and is used for training exercises.

Please avoid the area to allow our crews to work. Stay out of the smoke and far away from the fire as it can travel quickly.

— Surrey Fire & Rescue Service (@SurreyFRS) July 24, 2022

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Elsewhere, the London Fire Brigade said 15 fire engines and about 100 crew were at Rammey Marsh, Enfield, dealing with a grassland blaze on a 20-hectare site.

Emergency services were called at about 11: 30 BST.

About 70 firefighters were sent to Cranford Park in Hayes, London, where five hectares of shrubland was alight.

Dark smoke could also be seen rising into the air in Thamesmead as fire engines, the fire boat and about 65 firefighters dealt with a grass fire in Defence Close.

In Burgate, Suffolk, 18 fire engines were sent to deal with a stubbled crop fire.

Crews were first called at 12: 40 to reports of thick black smoke and the fire service initially said “the wind is not helping, the fire has been spreading”.

That blaze has been contained but crews are still trying to put it out.

Image source, Contributed

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Crews were first called to Burgate at 12: 40 to reports of thick black smoke

“Farmers are ploughing firebreaks ahead of the flames,” one witness said.

Norfolk firefighters have been dealing with a number of fires in the open including a crop fire in Stockton.

During the heatwave earlier this week, fire services across the country were under pressure as 15 areas around the UK declared major incidents following multiple blazes.

London had its busiest day since World War Two, the city’s mayor said.

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