MP speaks out over concerns of forest fire

FIRE FEARS A numbers of blazes were started over the summer at Queen's Inclosure
FIRE FEARS A numbers of blazes were started over the summer at Queen's Inclosure
Former pupils at the 2017 reunion, above, and a class in 1956, below		 Picture by Habibur Rahman (170854)

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AN MP is sending a letter to every school in Waterlooville over fears of a major forest fire.

George Hollingbery, who represents the Meon Valley, has spoken of his grave concerns that young people starting bonfires could cause a serious incident.

Queen’s Inclosure is almost 100 acres of mature oak woodland between Waterlooville and Cowplain and is one of the last remnants of the ancient Forest of Bere.

It is teeming with wildlife, including deer.

The wood, which is owned and run by the Forestry Commission, has seen seven blazes over the summer.

Four of them happened in one week.

The fires have caused thousand pounds worth of damage.

While the blazes have been small, Mr Hollingbery fears one will eventually get out of hand and be a risk to life or property.

He said: ‘I’m sure that many of the young people who have started these fires think it’s great fun, but the consequences could be disastrous.

‘Even if lives and property are not at risk, wildlife and the woodland itself suffers and it is my concern that, if measures are not taken to deal with the problem, then there could be a serious incident and no-one wants that.

‘I will be writing to schools, now the new academic year has started, asking teachers to highlight the dangers of starting fires so we can reduce these incidents, especially during the holiday periods.’

Two years ago there was outrage after vandals set fire to a bridge over the Hermitage Stream in the forest.

Neil Odin, assistant chief officer at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘We do a lot of work to educate the community about the dangers of fire setting and during the summer months we recognise these incidents can rise.

‘We therefore make every effort to work with our partners, in this case, the Queen’s Inclosure Park Rangers and the local community to help prevent these incidents, but we still must be vigilant.’

Anyone who sees anything suspicious should call police on 101.