FIREFIGHTERS were kept busy as fires roared at a military training ground and a firing range yesterday.
More than 26 firefighters battled to contain a blaze at Gosport’s Browndown Ranges, near Portsmouth Road, in Lee-on-the-Solent.
Crews from across the area tackled the fire, which was spread across an acre of scrubland at 7.30pm.
It took nearly three hours to tackle the fire, with relief crews damping down the remains at around midnight.
Police closed part of Portsmouth Road.
Fi Joss, 35, of York Crescent, in Lee-on-the-Solent, cycled down to see the blaze at around 7.45pm and again at 9.45pm. She said she had to find another route to the fire as thick smoke swept across the road.
‘I was sitting eating my dinner and I could see some smoke,’ she said.
‘It started off near the Angling Club car park, and when I went out later it was right up near us.
‘There was quite a lot of flames and smoke.
‘There was ash falling in the garden – I’m not expecting the paddling pool to be up tomorrow.’
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Earlier crews from Cosham were called to tackle a bonfire that got out of control near the Tipner firing range in Portsmouth.
Police officers were also called to the fire, which broke out at 5.15pm on open grassland south of the range, off Harbour Way, Tipner.
The smoke plume could be seen from as far as Cowes.
Sergeant Rob Sutton, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘Gorse bushes have set alight, and the fire is contained in that area.
‘Somebody set a little fire, like a bonfire, which got out of control and where everything is dry it caught on fire.’
Drivers on the M275 were being warned to be aware of the billowing smoke.
There were fears that if the wind picked up, the smoke, which had risen high enough not to obscure drivers’ views of the road, would swamp the motorway during rush hour.
Meanwhile, firefighters from Southsea were tackling a small grass fire off Burrfields Road in Copnor, which broke out at 4.53pm, using beaters.