MULTIPLE agencies worked together amid a heath fire at Upton which is believed to have been started deliberately.

More than 60 firefighters from various stations rushed to Upton Heath shortly before 2.30pm on Thursday, August 4, to tackle a heath fire which destroyed around 0.6 hectares of land and forced wildlife to be rushed to safety.

Due to the only viable access point to the fire being located along a slip road off the Upton Roundabout onto the A35, police and members of Dorset Council closed the slip to allow for the dozens of fire service vehicles to enter the site.

Also assisting the service were representatives from the Urban Heaths Partnership and Dorset Wildlife Trust who managed to get cattle away from the flames while firefighters worked to extinguish it.

Residents were told to avoid the area.

Dorset Echo: Upton Heath fire. Picture: Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue ServiceUpton Heath fire. Picture: Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service

On the scene, incident commander Allan Frias-Robles told the Echo: “At approximately 2.30pm we received reports of this fire at Upton Heath. Fire crews attended initially from Redhill, Westbourne, Ringwood and Wimborne.

“At the height of the fire we had 10 fire appliances, four land rovers, two water carriers and a Unimog dealing with the fire to stop it spreading before it reached the overhead electricity pylons.

“We were lucky that the fire was in quite a thin strip and thankful the wind conditions played quite a significant role in stopping it spread to quickly – that really assisted us.

“As the site was limited to just one entrance and we had to shut the dual carriageway slip road, crews worked very quick and hard in hot conditions to stop the fire spreading.”

Dorset Echo: Upton Heath fire on August 4, 2022Upton Heath fire on August 4, 2022

He added that while the cause of the fire is still under investigation, it is believed at this stage to have been started deliberately.

A warden from the Urban Heaths Partnership said the fire was “heart-breaking” but that cattle had been saved by the quick multi agency response.

Fire crews remained on the scene for several hours even after the fire was extinguished shortly after 4pm, and member of the Urban Heaths Partnership said they would return the next day to further assess the extend of damage to wildlife.