Page last updated at 18:34 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 19:34 UK

Heathland fire is 'under control'

Fire engines on the chain ferry being transported across Poole Harbour
The Sandbanks ferry was suspended except for transporting fire crews

A healthland fire on the Studland peninsula in Dorset is now "under control", police have said.

About 120 firefighters in more than 28 fire engines were called to Studland Heath, near Poole, at about 1340 BST.

Dorset Fire and Rescue said its crews had since surrounded the blaze, which had affected more than five hectares (12.4 acres) of heathland.

All roads and the Sandbanks chain ferry, a short service across Poole Harbour, have been reopened.

At its height police said the fire was "spreading unpredictably in the wind".

It's a very serious offence for anybody to be starting fires on a heathland
Craig Baker
Dorset Fire and Rescue
Several members of the public called 999 when the flames started.

The exact cause of the fire is currently unknown, but a Dorset Fire and Rescue spokesman said it was not believed to be suspicious.

Craig Baker, from the service, said: "This fire will be fully investigated.

"If there is any suggestion it has been caused deliberately the police will be looking into whether there's any culprits behind that.

Poole Harbour and smoke from the heath fire
The fire was surrounded by crews by about 1600 BST
"Obviously it's a very serious offence for anybody to be starting fires on a heathland."

In March 2006, a fire on Canford Heath, also near Poole, destroyed 200 hectares (494 acres) of sensitive heath.

The fire was believed to have been started deliberately.

In April 2006, another fire destroyed at least 15 hectares (37 acres) of land at Upton Heath, which was also believed to be the work of arsonists.

In March 2008, two fires on Canford Heath were deliberately started in two days.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Upton Heath blaze
23 Apr 06 |  In Pictures
New fire rages across heathland
22 Apr 06 |  Dorset
In pictures: Canford Heath blaze
19 Mar 06 |  In Pictures
Homes evacuated as heath blazes
19 Mar 06 |  Dorset

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