THERE were dramatic scenes at Corfe Castle, as firefighters battled a heathland blaze caused by a controlled burn that got out of hand.

Plumes of smoke swept over the historic monument as a nearby hillside went up in flames.

Footage by Virtual Swanage

Workers from the Swanage Railway had been carrying out a back burn of dead vegetation, at the side of the railway embankment, in a bid to prevent a larger blaze.

However, because of the dry conditions and the wind, the burn quickly spread up the hillside.

Eighteen firefighters, using four fire engines and a Land Rover, took more than an hour to bring the blaze under control. No-one was injured.

A sudden downpour, lasting around 20 minutes, also aided the firefighting effort. Visitors to Corfe told the Daily Echo the smoke was visible from miles away.

Speaking at the scene, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) watch manager, Nick Corben said: “Basically it is a bit of railway embankment, the railway staff were doing a bit of back burning to get rid of dead grass to reduce the fire risk. 

“Unfortunately because of the dry conditions and the wind things got a little out of control.”

After the fire spread, Swanage Railway workers - who had earlier notified DWFRS the controlled burn was taking place - quickly contacted fire control.

Mr Corben, from Swanage fire station, continued: “Access was very difficult, we sent two pumps and the Land Rover on top of the hill, along the main road and up through the farm. Then we had the two other pumps here on the road.

“Luckily we had a rain storm right at the beginning which helped.”

Dorset Police closed Sandy Lane to traffic while the drama unfolded.

Afterwards, a tweet from Swanage fire station read: “I would appreciate if people did not verbally abuse our personnel when told you cannot go down a road because it is closed due to an incident.”

Train services were also halted until the fire was extinguished.

Railway staff declined to comment, other than to confirm the hillside fire was a result of their controlled burn.The fire was reported at 9am.