Barbecue sparked blaze on the beach

Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney

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FIRE swept across sand dunes after a barbecue got out of control.

More than half an acre of grass at East Head, West Wittering, caught fire.

Two fire engines and three fire service Land Rovers went to tackle the blaze.

Eyewitness Anita Russell, who lives nearby, said: ‘Apparently a mother and two children were barbecuing in the midst of the dunes, dunes caught fire, they panicked and ran away.

‘A force-seven westerly wind carried it swiftly over the dunes.’

Firefighters were called out at about 1.30pm on Tuesday and three hoses and beaters were used to tackle the fire.

Crews left the scene at about 7.40pm.

They returned at about 9pm and four hot areas were dampened down. A fire service spokeswoman said the blaze started accidentally.