Sussex

Drusillas Park zoo evacuated amid Sussex grass fire

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Media captionGrass fire destroys 60 acres of crops

Hundreds of people were evacuated from a zoo because of a grass fire on nearby farmland.

Drusillas Park in Sussex said evacuation procedures were put in place and animals were shut away as the fire approached.

A spokeswoman said about 1,500 people had been safely moved out of the zoo and there were no injuries.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) sent six fire engines to the site at 15:00 BST.

By 20:00 the crews had quashed the flames and left the area.

The zoo spokeswoman confirmed there was no damage to the park and "all the animals were safe and well".

Farmer Paul Lewis, from Berwick Court Farm near Berwick and Alfriston, said about 45 acres of crops and straw had been lost as well as a £60,000 tractor.

He said: "It's been pretty nervous and frightening to be honest. We think the fire was caused by hot machinery, a flint and an accidental spark.

"I didn't want my machinery to go up in flames obviously, and I've spent nine months getting my crops to this stage, so to see it just go up in smoke is a complete crying waste."

Image caption A farmer said 45 acres of barley, wheat and straw had been lost

ESFRS area manager Mark Mathews said: "If people are using barbecues of glasses and glass bottles we ask them to be additionally vigilant, the risks are real.

"There were a whole range of things put at risk today and fortunately nobody was injured, but as we've seen elsewhere in the world that can be a very different story."

Drusillas Park plans to reopen as usual on Thursday, the zoo spokesman added.

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