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Chobham Common: 'Major incident' as evacuation ordered for 40-hectare wildfire
8 August 2020, 13:25
Dozens of homes have been evacuated while fire crews tackle a 40-hectare wildfire in Surrey.
The blaze started in Chobham Common and had earlier spread to Wentworth golf course, halting play in the Rose Ladies Series Grand Final tournament.
Surrey Fire and Rescue service said residents should leave immediately and have declared a “major incident”.
The service tweeted: “Relief crews are now proceeding from across Surrey to continue fire-fighting operations. Local roads remain closed by @SurreyPolice - Please remain clear of Chobham Common.”
Earlier, officers said they had dispatched 10 fire engines, two water carriers and 10 other vehicles to tackle the blaze. It is understood that residents have not yet been allowed to return to their homes.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove, the MP for Surrey Heath, called the fire a “tragedy” as he thanked search and rescue teams for their help in managing the incident.
Griff Ryan, 23, lives in Sunningdale near to the blaze, and said the fire began with a “strange light” at around 1pm before smoke and then later a “wall of flames”.
“Smoke got gradually worse and ash began falling into our garden,” he told the PA news agency.
“Now standing on Chobham road. At around 5pm fire still wasn't visible from the road.
⚠️Major incident - Chobham Common, Heath Fire - Relief crews are now proceeding from across Surrey to continue fire-fighting operations. Local roads remain closed by @SurreyPolice - Please remain clear of Chobham Common. Further updates to follow ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/6LWzBhNmgQ— Surrey Fire & Rescue Service (@SurreyFRS) August 8, 2020
“Over about half an hour it's become visible and now can see a wall of flames down towards the railway line. Other residents I've spoken to have said it's the worst they've seen in 30 years.”
Smoke from the fire was visible well over ten miles away and had earlier been mistakenly thought to be coming from Heathrow airport by some on social media.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has set a level four fire severity alert, meaning the risk of wildfires is “severe” and fires can spread quickly. The public have been told not to light disposable BBQs and ensure smoking materials are fully extinguished.