Chobham Common wildfire spreads 'wall of flames' in Surrey

7 August 2020, 19:55

Chobham Common wildfire reaches Surrey golf course

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A wildfire on Chobham Common in Surrey has spread a 40-hectare "wall of flames" to a golf course as temperatures soar.

Fire crews have been tackling the blaze amid 36C heat in what residents have described as the worst fire they have seen "in 30 years."

The inferno began on Chobham Common but spread to Wentworth golf course, disrupting play at the Rose Ladies Series Grand Final.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said it sent 10 fire engines, two water carriers and 10 other vehicles to tackle the blaze.

"If you are on Chobham Common please evacuate the area immediately for your safety," the service said.

It comes as the UK experienced its hottest August day since 2003 on Friday, with the mercury reaching a sweat-inducing 36.4C at nearby Heathrow Airport - where some people on social media mistakenly thought the fire originated.

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A "wall of flames" has halted play at a golf course in Surrey
A "wall of flames" has halted play at a golf course in Surrey. Picture: Getty
Plumes of smoke could be seen well over 10 miles away
Plumes of smoke could be seen well over 10 miles away. Picture: PA

A number of homes have been evacuated while fire crews tackle the blaze, with residents being told they will not be able to return until Saturday morning at the earliest.

"The fire on Chobham Common is an ongoing incident with significant numbers of emergency services on the scene who are likely to remain there for some time," the fire service tweeted.

"Some local roads in the area remain closed to allow crews to work and for public safety. Please continue to avoid the area.

"A number of homes in the area have had to be evacuated for safety reasons.

"Any resident that has been evacuated should not return to their homes until it's safe to do so - this will be tomorrow morning at the very earliest."

The fire tore through Chobham Common on Friday
The fire tore through Chobham Common on Friday. Picture: PA

Plumes of smoke from the blaze were visible well over ten miles away.

Griff Ryan, 23, who lives in nearby Sunningdale, said it 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 said.

"Now standing on Chobham road. At around 5pm fire still wasn't visible from the road.

"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."

A spokesman for the fire service said: "We received a call this afternoon around 12:25pm to a report of a fire on Chobham Common.

"Ten fire engines have been sent in total, alongside multiple specialist vehicles, with the first arriving at the scene around 12.35pm. Approximately 41 hectares of grass and undergrowth are alight.

"Crews remain at the scene tackling the fire."