Queen guitarist Brian May thanks fire crews for saving home from wildfire

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Image source, Surrey County Council
Image caption,
Crews will continue to tackle hot spots for the next couple of days

Queen guitarist Brian May has thanked firefighters for saving his home and music studio from "going up in flames" during a wildfire.

Crews have battled the blaze on the national nature reserve at Chobham Common in Surrey since Friday.

May posted on Instagram to say the land was "still smouldering less than a mile from my own house and studio, and the fond relics of my entire life".

Surrey County Council said the situation has been stabilised.

On Friday a huge plume of smoke was seen rising from the common and multiple crews from Surrey Fire and Rescue were sent out to tackle the blaze, which is estimated to have burned around 85 hectares.

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FIREFIGHT in SURREY. I never imagined it could happen here in leafy, and normally damp, Surrey, England. We supported the fight against the immense fires in Australia, and watched sadly as fires ravaged California, but to see this happen in my own home county has been shocking and traumatic. These pictures show Anne Brummer and I this afternoon, surveying the forest fire which is still smouldering less than a mile from my own house and studio, and the fond relics of my entire life. Today Se were able to begin to thank the amazing firefighters who risked their lives to contain this huge and treacherous wild furnace on the heath land of Sunningdale Golf Course - which actually adjoins my property. Yesterday, I was rescuing as many precious things from my house as was practicable, under threat of the whole thing going up in flames, but praying that the horror would not happen. Today my prayers were answered - the fire is under control, but the danger is not over. While this dry heatwave lasts there is still a massive risk of a flare-up leading to disaster. Perhaps even more shocking was learning today that this wonderful force, which is alert 24 hours a day to protect us all, has become tragically undersupporyed in recent years. Just as the Government cuts sent the NHS into battle hideously crippled by lack of funding, the same lack of vision has rendered this country vulnerable to fires - with a fire fighting service criminally cut back in manpower and resources. Something has gone terribly wrong with our leaders’ decision-making process. As long as we prioritise short-term economic gains over the lives of our people and the welfare of those who protects us, we will be a nation continually in danger. It becomes more and more clear that a radical rethink is needed. THANK YOU, firefighters of Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, and the maintenance team of Sunningdale Golf - for saving all our skins. And thanks Callum and Emily, George, and the nice man from Barcelona for giving us a backstage tour today. Incredible. Photo of Bri and Anne by Callum Strachan. Swipe for stereo views showing the still smoking edges of the huge area of destruction. Bri

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on

In an Instagram post, May said: "I never imagined it could happen here in leafy, and normally damp, Surrey, England.

"We supported the fight against the immense fires in Australia, and watched sadly as fires ravaged California, but to see this happen in my own home county has been shocking and traumatic."

"Today we were able to begin to thank the amazing firefighters who risked their lives to contain this huge and treacherous wild furnace on the heath land of Sunningdale Golf Course - which actually adjoins my property.

"Yesterday, I was rescuing as many precious things from my house as was practicable, under threat of the whole thing going up in flames, but praying that the horror would not happen. Today my prayers were answered."

Image source, Surrey Wildlife Trust
Image caption,
Surrey Wildlife Trust said the heathland will take years to recover from the wildfire

Surrey Wildlife Trust said the fire began on Sunningdale golf course and spread to the common due to strong winds.

It said the heathland, home to specialist reptiles, protected ground nesting birds and thousands of species of insects, was "rarer than tropical rainforest".

James Adler, director of biodiversity at the trust, said: "All Surrey heathland sites are highly vulnerable to heath fires at present.

"We are concerned that climate change is leading to an increase in frequency... When these habitats are destroyed by wildfire, it may take many years before the area becomes suitable for them again."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The fire also spread to Wentworth Golf Club.

Thomas Smith, Assistant Professor of Geography at the London School of Economics, estimated the wildfire to have burned around 85 hectares according to satellite imagery collected on Sunday.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but Surrey County Council has urged people not to light bonfires or use disposable BBQs in the countryside.

People have been asked to continue avoiding the area.

The council said that while it was still a "significant" incident, the situation had been stabilised and resources reduced.

The fire service will remain at the scene for the rest of the week in case the fire develops again.

Image source, Surrey Search and Rescue
Image caption,
Surrey Search and Rescue sent a drone up to monitor the fire

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