Pirbright fire destroys 40 hectares of heathland

Fire Image copyright Surrey Fire and Rescue
Image caption The heathland is home to rare wildlife, including the silver-studded blue butterfly

About 40 hectares of heathland have been destroyed by fire in Surrey.

Crews fought the blaze through the night at Pirbright after the wildfire started on Wednesday afternoon.

Surrey fire service said the blaze covered four hectares when they were called at midday. Within four hours, it had spread across 30 hectares.

BBC reporter Mike Buxton said the heath was mostly Ministry of Defence land, but surrounding areas were also popular with dog walkers who raised the alarm.

The heath is home to species including the silver-studded blue butterfly, slow worms and lizards.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was brought under control on Thursday morning.

Image copyright Surrey Fire and Rescue
Image caption The fire was tackled through the night

James Adler, from Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: "Following a dry winter... it's this time of year where everything starts to catch fire unfortunately."

He said ground nesting birds and some reptiles are unlikely to survive.

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