Fears over fire threat

PUBLISHED: 12:25 27 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:34 06 May 2010

Peter Bradley

Peter Bradley

A 24-hour fire watch has been mounted at the RSPB site in Sandy. Three weeks of dry weather and exceptionally high temperatures have turned the 400-acre nature reserve into a tinder box. It is feared that one spark could cause a major disaster destroying

A 24-hour fire watch has been mounted at the RSPB site in Sandy.

Three weeks of dry weather and exceptionally high temperatures have turned the 400-acre nature reserve into a tinder box.

It is feared that one spark could cause a major disaster destroying heathland and wildlife.

Last week a similar reserve near the south coast suffered a catastrophic fire and now managers of the RSPB site in Sandy are doing all they can to make sure they have as many early warnings as possible in an attempt to prevent another fire storm in the heatwave.

"We have more people on lookout for fires on the reserve," said RSPB site manager Peter Bradley.

"We are leaving nothing to chance because the entire area is tinder dry and one spark could cause a disaster here like it did at another reserve.

"Now we have staff around the clock patrolling the site because the vegetation is so dry and we don't want a major fire here.

"Regular patrols mean we would hopefully have an early warning of any fire but 400 acres is a large area to patrol and we are doing our best. We are keeping vigilant.

"During the current hot weather we have seen visitor numbers drop so there are not so many people on the site."

The hot weather has meant staff frequently watering new trees planted in areas where old trees were cleared last winter and water pools used by wildlife such as foxes and badgers as well as sheep are slowly drying out and may have to be refilled.

But the heatwave has brought a bonus with masses of insects on the site and three hobbies, small birds of prey, making it their home.

"Dragonfly species have been very high which is why the hobbies have stayed. There is plenty of food for them" added Mr Bradley

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