Dorset

'Malicious' fire damages Verwood heathland

Stephen's Castle heath fire Image copyright Hampshire Fire and Rescue
Image caption The fire service said it was alerted by several callers to the fire on Forestry Commission land near Coopers Lane

An area of Dorset heathland has been damaged in a "malicious" fire a year after it was targeted by arsonists.

More than 40 firefighters were called at about 08:00 BST to the Stephen's Castle beauty spot near Verwood.

The fire service said it took more than two hours to bring the blaze, involving two acres of young trees and heathland, under control.

The area is home to many rare plants and animals including sand lizards, smooth snakes and grayling butterflies.

Image copyright Hampshire Fire and Rescue
Image caption Stephen's Castle has been the scene of several malicious fires in recent years

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service attended the fire on Forestry Commission land near Coopers Lane after receiving several calls.

Dorset Police confirmed it is treating the blaze as "malicious".

Stephen's Castle has been recovering from a fire in April 2015, which the police said was caused by arsonists.

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