FIREFIGHTERS battled a significant gorseland blaze next to Lodmoor Nature Reserve earlier today.

An area of gorse and hedgerow roughly 100-metres square was destroyed by the fire, which was reported to Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) shortly after midday.

The drama unfolded less than two months after a larger fire took hold in the same area.

DWFRS crew manager John Wickham told the Dorset Echo his main concern had been the safety of the nearby homeless shelter, a double-decker bus which is converted into a facility to help rough sleepers.

Mr Wickham also said the cause of the fire remained unknown at this stage.

Two fire engines from Weymouth fire station attended the scene, which was also close to the household refuse centre off Preston Beach Road, Lodmoor, Weymouth.

Simon Gadding, who had been visiting nearby Preston Beach, said: "I saw the smoke swirling up from the other side of the road.

"You could also see flames jumping up but it was dealt with quite quickly.

"It was also raining very slightly so that must have helped."

Firefighters took less than an hour to extinguish the flames.

However, one crew remained on site into the afternoon dampening down.

Speaking to the Echo at the scene, Mr Wickham explained: "We have an area of gorse approximately 100 metres by 100 metres.

"We are unsure how it started but it spread fairly rapidly due to winds.

"It was extinguished using water only.

"There was no danger to life, our only worry was there is a double decker bus in the nearby car park which caters for the homeless, so our main concern was to defend that."

In July six fire engines were called to a blaze in the same area, in fields surrounding Lodmoor Nature Reserve.

A huge cloud of smoke could be seen for miles around including Weymouth town centre.

On that occasion approximately four hectares of waste ground and reed beds were alight.

At its height fire crews urged people to stay away from the area and residents were told to keep doors and windows closed.

Dorset Echo:

Picture: J Hennessey

Dorset Echo:

Picture: Robert Santonna Jnr