The Wareham Forest blaze which is continuing to rage is believed to be one of the most devastating forest and heath fires in Dorset in living memory.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, whose crews from all 50 fire stations from across the service have attended the incident at some point over the last week, said 220 hectares – the size of over 230 football pitches – of forest and heathland has been destroyed.

It started last Monday, May 18 through 'social activity' – discarded barbecues, campfires and glass bottles were found at the site.

The brigade said over the last week, crews have been on scene dealing with the devastating effects of this fire and fighting in hot and arduous conditions to ensure it does not spread further.

Firefighters, not only from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS), but also many other fire and rescue services (Avon, Devon & Somerset, Hampshire, Royal Berkshire, South Wales and West Sussex) and specialist advisors from Forestry England, Dorset Police colleagues and many volunteers have been working tirelessly together to try to bring this major incident to conclusion.

DWFRS Chief Fire Officer, Ben Ansell said: “I am extremely proud of the hard work of firefighters and all staff from across Dorset & Wiltshire that have attended this incident, as well as the control room staff who have worked tirelessly to make sure resources are where they need to be.

"All 50 fire stations from across the service have attended the incident at some point this week. We are extremely grateful to the National Fire Chiefs Council and all the other fire and rescue services and other agencies that have supported us in dealing with this incident."

He added: “This incident highlights how devastating and resource intensive heath and forest fires are. This has been made even more difficult by the weather conditions we have faced this week and the current social distancing guidelines in place – which are almost impossible to adhere to when dealing with a forest fire."