Blaze at Staffordshire nature reserve was arson - police

A fire at a nature reserve which is a haven to many animals was set deliberately, say police.

Gentleshaw Common. Photo: Google
Gentleshaw Common. Photo: Google

The fire was reported at Gentleshaw Common, on Chorley Road, Burntwood, at 4.10pm on Sunday.

Crews from Cannock, Penkridge, Rugeley, Lichfield and Tamworth attended and extinguished the blaze by 5.40pm.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Fire Service said: "Crews used wildland firefighting equipment, including a light portable pump and a leaf blower to contain the blaze.

"A thermal scan of the surrounding area was conducted in order to ensure the safety of the community.

"Crews ensured the area was safe before departing at 7.30pm."

The common is home to a host of wildlife including many species of birds, solitary bees and wasps as well as many species of plants and is looked after by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

Jeff Sim, head of nature reserves and species recovery, said: "We are extremely grateful to visitors for noticing and reporting the fire swiftly, and for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service for their professionalism in extinguishing the fire rapidly.

"We are currently investigating the damage and believe that an area just under 2.5 acres was burnt.

"This shows how fragile ancient heathlands like Gentleshaw Common are.

"We don't allow BBQs or camp fires on any of our reserves, and we'd ask anyone who sees smoke to phone 999 and ask for the fire service immediately."

Police are now appealing for information on the blaze at the common, which is a designated Site of Specific Scientific Interest.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "No-one was injured and the fire was successfully extinguished.

"The cause is believed to be deliberate and an investigation is underway.

"Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or those of CCTV or dashcam footage of the area are asked to contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or call 101, quoting incident 504 of March 27.

"Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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