Fire scare at RSPB reserve

FEARS of a fire on the RSPB site at Sandy turned to reality when the lives of 60 sheep were at risk. Children who had used a nearby public footpath to get on to the site are believed to have been responsible for the fire. Three weeks of hot weather has tu

FEARS of a fire on the RSPB site at Sandy turned to reality when the lives of 60 sheep were at risk.

Children who had used a nearby public footpath to get on to the site are believed to have been responsible for the fire.

Three weeks of hot weather has turned the 400-acre site tinder dry and staff had mounted round-the-clock fire watches to try and combat any blazes or get an early warning to alert emergency services.

On Wednesday last week at around 5pm the alarm was raised by staff at the Lafarge Aggregates site at Sandy Heath quarry who had spotted smoke coming from a field where the sheep were grazing.


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RSPB staff immediately rushed to the field and managed to move the sheep to safety as flames engulfed 10 acres of grassland close to the hamlet of Deepdale.

Firefighters from Sandy managed to put out the blaze that destroyed ground covering heather and gorse using hoses and beaters.

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"Luckily we were alerted very quickly by the staff at Lafarge Aggregates and RSPB staff got down to the field very quickly and managed to shoo the sheep out of the field," said RSPB manager Peter Bradley.

"We are almost certain children were responsible for starting the fire as a group of kids were seen running from the area.

"A fire is something we have feared for some weeks with all the dry weather and now it has happened. Thankfully this time it was a small fire and we got an early warning.

"The next time, though, we might not be so lucky which is why we are appealing to parents to make sure their children during the summer school holidays are not leaving home with matches or lighters.

"The dangers of setting fire to grass and heathland is immense and lives could be put at risk

"This time we were lucky. We managed to save the sheep from being harmed and only a small area of grass and heath land was destroyed.

"The next time - hopefully there won't be one - we may not be so lucky.

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