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Inferno at Weymouth's RSPB Radipole Lake reserve
FIRE raged through a nature reserve after reed bed burning spiralled out of control.
Around 75 firefighters in 12 appliances and six Land Rovers were called to Radipole Lake bird reserve off Weymouth Way yesterday morning.
A fire service spokesman said the blaze, which had been planned to manage reed beds, spread rapidly after the wind picked up.
Dorset Police cordoned off part of the southbound lane of Weymouth Way to assist crews gaining access to the land.
The force also launched its marine Rib in the reserve to help co-ordinate the fire service’s response as well as the force helicopter to feed back live aerial images of the blaze to fire control.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Service’s area manager Keith Bacon said: “Silver command for the incident said that around six hectares of reed bed had caught fire, which we believe started out as a controlled burn but was then picked up by the wind and got out of control.
“Officers used hosereel jets and beaters to put out the fire and the aerial photography provided by Dorset Police on this job has been priceless.”
He also said that one fire fighter required treatment from a paramedic for exhaustion.
Sergeant Luke Wilcock of Dorset Police helped divert traffic past the scene on Weymouth Way.
He said: “Obviously, our first priority is to ensure the safety of the firefighters as they carry out their work as well as the safety of the public.
“We also needed to ensure that motorists were still able to get in and out of Weymouth without too much disruption.”
Nick Tomlinson, Radipole Lake’s reserve manager for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, was also at the scene as the fire burned.
He said: “This was a controlled burn that got out of hand after a freak gust of wind.
“Luckily, we’re not in the nesting season so I can say confidently that there’s been no negative impact on the wildlife here because of this.
“Of course it is regretful that this has happened at all but in the longer term it may actually prove to be beneficial.
“Reed beds are like lawns, they respond to regular management and may well grown back stronger next year as a result of this.”
Mr Tomlinson also heaped praise on Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and Dorset Police for the way they dealt with the incident as well as RSPB volunteers who also came to assist.