Up to 170 firefighters are tackling a blaze which is raging across 100 hectares of heathland in Dorset.
Some 100 hectares are ablaze
About 100 people have been forced to leave their homes because strong winds are fanning the flames on Canford Heath in Poole, Dorset Fire Service said.
A spokeswoman said the fire service had received a total of 250 emergency calls alerting them to the blaze.
The cause is currently unknown and about 25 fire engines and 12 Land Rovers are at the scene.
Houses in several streets in the area were evacuated as a precaution, a Dorset Police spokesman said. Residents are being cared for at a nearby school and sports centre.
"Police are urging local people, for their own safety, to resist the temptation to attend the area to view the fire," he added.
A spokesman for the fire service said there had been no injuries and the fire was under control.
I've lived here for 21 years and this is by far the biggest fire in all that time. Highly spectacular against the night sky but lethal as we've heard reports of house roofs catching fire.Chris Bayliss, Poole
I opened the curtains to see an orange sky and a police helicopter overhead. Outside I heard a voice coming from the helicopter megaphone telling people to evacuate their houses and to follow police instructions; on no account was anyone to go closer to the flames or try to tackle them.
I took a walk to get to a better vantage point and saw lines of cars (possibly an exodus from effected areas). Fire engines, police cars and ambulances were whizzing in all directions; blue lights flashing against the orange and black skyline.
Groups of onlookers started to clump together - one with a radio scanner tuned into the emergency services so we could hear what was going on. The power lines (close to the fire) had been switched off for obvious reasons and no lights could be seen, apart from the odd fire vehicle moving along the ridge of the scortched heath. It's all very quiet now and most of the rubber neckers have gone home (me being one of them).
David Kuziara, Canford Heath, Dorset
I live on Canford Heath. When I heard about the fire at around 8pm I decided to go for a walk as all the roads around me had been closed. To my astonishment the fire was huge and out of control. I walked up to houses where you could see an orange glow in the sky.
At one point I was standing outside peoples' homes and watching the fires lick the trees in their gardens. These people had already been evacuated. The experience was incredibly frightening. We are used to fires in this area, but nothing quite like this.
Rachel Light, Poole