The fire took hold quickly and was significant with approximately 15 hectares alight in a valley area behind the back of Duddleswell.
A fire has been burning overnight and firefighters near East Sussex, England, worked through Sunday night and Monday morning to put out a fire that broke out in the Ashdown Forest. This is the same forest that inspired author A.A. Milne’s fictional Hundred Acre Wood in his famous Winnie the Pooh series, reports People. According to theEast Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, at 21:32 on 28 April 2019, firefighters from Crowborough, Mayfield, Heathfield, Uckfield, Forest Row, Lewes, and Seaford together with support from West Sussex and Kent Fire and Rescue attended a large fire in Ashdown Forest.
To access the affected sites, firefighters used Land Rovers and all-terrain vehicles. They also used beaters and flex-packs to fight the fire. We were supported by Ashdown Forest Rangers and Sussex Police who used a drone to survey the fire ground. The firefighters left the scene around 10:00 am on Monday morning and they were scheduled to re-attend the scene for a re-inspection, just to make sure they put out the fire.
Andrew Gausden (Incident Commander) said, "We received numerous calls at 9:30 last night from members of the public and the police regarding a fire in the Ashdown Forest. The fire took hold quickly and was significant with approximately 15 hectares alight in a valley area behind the back of Duddleswell. It is always challenging with forest fires in gaining access. We used off-road vehicles (5 Land Rovers) and received assistance from Kent Fire and Rescue who brought in their all-terrain vehicles to help access the scene."
He also added, "We do not know the cause of the fire yet. We are working closely with Sussex Police and the Ashdown Forest Rangers to investigate the cause. We are not looking at it being a deliberate fire at this time. Investigations will take place over the next few days. We would like to thank West Sussex Fire & Rescue, Kent Fire & Rescue, Ashdown Forest Rangers and Sussex Police for their assistance with this incident."
Andrew also said, "It's unusual to have a fire of this size at night. This seems to have caught hold before people noticed the fire. The undergrowth was very dry in the forest, despite the recent rain, and the fire caught quite quickly. We had numerous calls, including from the police who have a training center nearby." According to BBC, AA Milne created Winnie The Pooh in the 1920s when he was living near Hartfield, which was in the area of the woods. That's where the Hundred Acre Woods -where Winnie and his friends lived- was inspired from.
Chris Sutton, who is an Ashdown Ranger forest range, said the bracken in the area was as dry as straw. He also added ground-nesting birds would have seen eggs and nests destroyed. The forest is also an important habitat for nightjars and Dartford warblers. "Reptiles like adders and lizards would not have been able to move fast enough. Large animals like foxes and deer would have been able to move out of the area quite quickly," he said.
"All is not lost - within four weeks we'll have grass growing and in six months you probably won't know too much has gone on here," he added while also mentioning that animals and insects from surrounding areas would quickly repopulate the area hit by the fire. Ashdown Forest is in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the heathland makes up about two-thirds of its 6,500 acres (2,500 hectares).
Ashdown forest was initially used for deer hunting in Norman times. It has since been given national and international protection because of its wildlife. Surprisingly, this is not the first time a fire has emerged in Ashdown forest. The Conservators of Ashdown Forest said "a freak gust of wind combined with unseasonably dry conditions" was to blame and nobody was hurt.