Dorset

Christchurch heath fire was 'started deliberately'

Heath fire Image copyright Christchurch & East Dorset Council
Image caption The fire service said the blaze destroyed three hectares of trees and gorse

A major heath fire in Dorset is thought to have been started deliberately, the fire service has said.

About 70 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze which broke out at about 14:30 BST on Tuesday off the A338 near Bournemouth Airport.

Craig Baker of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said: "We think the fire was started deliberately. It's devastating."

About three hectares (eight acres) of trees and gorse were destroyed.

Image copyright Christchurch & East Dorset Council
Image caption By 18:00 BST, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said the fire was largely under control
Image copyright Christchurch & East Dorset Council
Image caption Thick smoke billowed from the heath as fire crews fought the blaze

Smoke drifting across the carriageway forced the partial closure of the A338 Bournemouth Spur Road and caused delays of more than an hour for drivers.

The fire service said crews were due to return to the heath later to check the area for hotspots.

It said an investigation into the cause of the blaze was under way.

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Drifting smoke forced the partial closure of the A338 Bournemouth Spur Road

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