Crews fight forest fire

FIRE crews tackled a blaze for nearly 24 hours when heather burning got out of control.

The controlled burning, which is carried out regularly during autumn to spring, took place on land neighbouring Harwood Forest near Rothbury last Thursday.

But as the wind changed direction, the burning spread into the forest, destroying a perimeter fence and 30 trees.

At the start of the fire, at around 12.30pm, four crews were called to tackle it – Rothbury, Ponteland and two from Pegswood. But just over an hour later another four were called in from Pegswood, Alnwick and two from Hexham. A wildfire team was also at the scene.

The crews split up into teams to tackle different areas of the blaze, which covered an area of land 1,000metres by 300metres, using beaters and fogging units to control it. Police, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission, who lease the land from the trust, were also involved.

Fortunately, the land at Harwood Forest escaped lightly.

Forester Jonathan Farries said: “Luckily only 30 trees were damaged because some of the land has been cleared. As a result of that, the fire burnt branches from the cleared area.

“A fence was damaged but we got off lightly.”

Harwood Forest is one of Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s red squirrel reserves. It is likely that any animals in the area would have escaped the fire but monitoring officers are looking at the situation.