FIREFIGHTERS are urging people to keep an eye out for troublemakers after a spate of fires at a beauty spot.
Queens Inclosure in is repeatedly being damaged by people deliberately starting fires in the park.
Since January firefighters have been called out five times to the nature reserve because grass and rubbish is being set alight.
The fire service believe the incidents may be linked.
And as previously reported in The News, vandals burnt the main bridge across Hermitage Stream in July.
Now the Forestry Commission and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are asking people to watch out for vandals and to continue to report fires.
Pam Eastwood has been a Forestry Commission ranger at the 40-acre woodland for 15 years.
She said: ‘We are plagued by people having camp fires.
‘Last year we had one of the bridges burn down. The bridge is there for people with pushchairs, or the elderly, or children with bikes to cross the stream.
‘People also start fires at the base of yew trees, which damages the root and kills it.
‘And that’s a real shame because the trees are irreplaceable.
‘When you come into this area you can’t light a fire for camping or barbecues. If caught you can be prosecuted.
‘The Forestry Commission does not have a lot of money to replace facilities or trees.
‘These fires destroy the area for everyone.’
Group manager for Havant and East Hampshire Ian Gray said: ‘We have already had another five reported fires this year and although these fires may appear small, their effects spread much further.
‘Apart from the inconvenience, grass and rubbish fires are a serious drain on the fire and rescue service, tying up resources that could be required for life-saving emergency response.
‘People often underestimate the damage that can be caused by a fire. Rubbish burns at an alarmingly fast rate and fire can spread extremely rapidly.
‘The vast majority of rubbish fires are started deliberately.
‘Someone may throw a lighter or match and minutes later a serious fire has developed, toxic gases are being given off and firefighters and the public are endangered.’