Pirbright fire: Man sought over healthland wildfire

Fire Image copyright Surrey Fire and Rescue
Image caption Fire crews spent nearly 24 hours bringing the heathland fire under control

A man is being sought by police following a fire that destroyed 40 hectares of heathland in Surrey.

Crews spent almost 24 hours fighting the blaze at Pirbright, which started just after midday on Wednesday.

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

Surrey Police said they were keen to speak to a man wearing a camouflage top, blue jeans and black boots who was seen in the area when the fire started.

'Devastating impact'

Fire investigators are still trying to establish the cause of the blaze, which was brought under control on Thursday.

"Fortunately no one was injured as a result of the incident but the fire has had a devastating impact on the heathland and a huge number of emergency service units - particularly firefighters - spent around a day bringing the fire under control," said PC Claire Crathern.

"I am particularly keen to speak to a man seen in the area around the time of the fire as we believe he may be able to provide vital information which could assist with this ongoing investigation."

The heath is mostly Ministry of Defence land, but the surrounding areas are also popular with dog walkers who raised the alarm.

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