A MASSIVE heath fire on a Lulworth range was caused by a military flare and tackled using a new firefighting technique.

Sixty Dorset firefighters attended the blaze at the Five Tips military firing range which broke out around 9.45pm on Tuesday night.

Fanned by strong winds, crews from six stations were sent to battle the blaze which spread over half-a-mile of heathland.

Fire crews used a new protein-based foam technique to control the flames, which was the first time it had been tested out since training and had worked “very effectively”.

Andy Elliott, Wildfire Subject Matter Advisor for Dorset Fire and Rescue, pictured inset, said: “Because the technique is fairly easy to use it meant that we did not require as many personnel, or as much water, so it meant that we used fewer resources to tackle the fire.

“It also meant that we could contain the fire to a much smaller size than it would have probably grown to without using this technique.”

Two crews from Wareham and a Land Rover from Bere Regis were first to attend the fire, which broke out at one of the leading firing ranges in Western Europe.

Two calls for further assistance were made by firefighters, leading to crews from Swanage, Wimborne, Hamworthy, and Poole attending the scene which affected nearly 12.5 acres of heathland.

Mr Elliott added: “When I first turned up, there was a well-developed wild fire driven by a very strong wind, at approximately 20km per hour.”

He said crews were working hard to control to stop the fire spreading, but had to request assistance.

A spokesman for the MOD said the fire had broken out during routine night firing.

“The fire was caused by an illuminated flare. The fire service was called out and the incident closed at 2am.

“Range fires are not unusual. The range is open as normal and there will be no long-term impact to the site.”