Mass evacuation as thick smoke engulfs seaside in 'fast moving' fire


Residents and holidaymakers watched on helplessly as smoke billowed into the sky following a large fire involving undergrowth and gorse which broke out in Studland Heath at around 1pm today, August 12. The fire service says crews from Springbourne, Poole, Westbourne and Swanage are in attendance, with other crews on their way.

Firefighters have also asked people “to leave the heath for their own safety, and to avoid Ferry Road” while the Sandbanks Ferry, which crosses the entrance of Poole Harbour, has been suspended, reports Dorset Live.

A spokeswoman for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called to Studland Heath at 1.12pm for a large fire involving undergrowth and gorse.

“We have crews from Springbourne, Poole, Westbourne and Swanage in attendance, with other resources on the way.

“We are asking people to leave the heath for their own safety, and to avoid Ferry Road.”

Sandbanks Ferry has confirmed its ferry service is suspended as firefighters tackle the blaze.

A tweet reads: “FERRY SERVICE SUSPENDED for vehicles due to a large fire on Studland side very near to Ferry Road. We’ll keep you updated – fire Service on scene.”

Smoke can be seen for miles in the area, with the smoke seen from Studland Beach, Sandbanks, Broadstone and Southbourne in Bournemouth.

One person in the Studland area said they had to “drive through thick smoke while holding their breath to get to the ferry”.

Firefighters a few miles inland are also tackling a large field fire on Ridgeway Hill near Church Knowle in the Purbecks, with at least three fire crews at the scene.

More firefighters have travelled to the field to help extinguish the fire. Motorists are being advised to “avoid” the road to Furzebrook from the A351 due to the number of firefighters in the area.

A fire service spokeswoman said: “We were called to a large field fire at Ridgeway Hill, Church Knowle at 12pm.

“We have firefighters from Wareham, Swanage, Poole, Wimborne, Bere Regis and Hamworthy in attendance, using hose reel jets and beaters to bring the fire under control.

“We are asking people to avoid the road to Furzebrook from the A351.”



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