In the early evening of Thursday July 26th a large heath fire occurred on Ferndown Common. This site, owned by the Erica Trust, has been managed by ARC for many years. Thanks to the efforts of the Fire Service the fire was contained at 13 hectares; devastating for the wildlife in the area but still leaving a portion of the site undamaged and all nearby properties safe. The extremely dry ground and vegetation conditions made the situation very difficult, with numerous re-ignitions throughout the next few days. Strong winds on Saturday caused further problems and Fire Service crews had to remain on site until Sunday morning. Heavy rain throughout the early hours of Sunday morning and throughout the day finally allowed all those concerned to relax. ARC staff were on site throughout the incident and had incredible support from local conservation partners for which we are very grateful.

During the event we saw very little sign of any reptiles; the current drought had presumably forced them underground to seek shelter from the extremely hot and dry conditions. All six native species of reptile are known to be present in the affected area and those that survived the heat and smoke of the fire will encounter problems when they do emerge. Although several reptiles have been found dead, two smooth snakes, fifteen common lizards and two palmate newts have been rescued to date.

ARC staff will actively monitor the site and put a call out for assistance if and when it is required. We will then begin planning the on-going management of the burnt area in order to aid the lengthy recovery period.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have published some sound advice to keep you, your pets and our precious wildlife safe. Read more at the DWFRS website.