A FIRE engulfed land near Weymouth, prompting a major firefighting operation.

Coombe Valley Road at Preston was closed off this evening to allow crews to battle the blaze which raged across a hectare of grassland.

Four fire engines, from Weymouth and Dorchester, rushed to the scene shortly before 6.30pm after a member of the public spotted the fire, which had started on the hills next to the road.

Large plumes of smoke were visible across the area.

More than 30 firefighters tackled the blaze and it took them more than an hour to fully extinguish the fire.

An estimated one hectare of land was burnt during the fire, and police were forced to close the road for over two hours.

The road was reopened shortly after 8.30pm.

Angus Nairn, Fire Safety Enforcement Manager from Dorset Fire and Rescue, said: “The fire started near the roadside and spread up the hill side rapidly.

“It took the firefighters just over an hour to extinguish the fire; it was a lot of hard work because of the heat and the wind which made the fire develop quickly.

“We don't know what started the fire - it is just one of those things that happens in this type of weather.

“These sorts of fire happen in these conditions, but we would like to remind the public to be aware of naked flames, cigarettes and cooking equipment such as barbecues, near grass at this time of year.”