Firefighters have urged responsible enjoyment of countryside areas after a fire severely damaged six hectares of heathland.
The blaze at Woolbeding Common over the bank holiday weekend is believed to have been started by a ‘careless act’, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service confirmed.
Midhurst Fire Station commended the joint efforts of firefighters from Petworth, Liphook, Haslemere and both Midhurst crews, who spent more than two hours fighting to put out the blaze in very difficult conditions.
Posting on Facebook, the station said: “We would encourage all those using our stunning countryside to do so responsibly and consider the conseqences of careless actions.”
A fire service spokesman confirmed it is now believed the fire was likely started by mistake, possibly a careless act of discarding a cigarette or disposable barbecue.
It comes after a fire at Iping and Trotton Common swept across 31 hectares of heathland in February.
The blaze was caused by a controlled burn that got out of hand, with more than 50 firefighters called in to help put it out.
Villagers called for an independent inquiry into the incident after concerns as to a risks to residents’ homes.
Stedham Parish Council chairman Lucy Petrie said Sussex Wildlife Trust had refused the request but the trust had since had a briefing with the fire service.
Guidance on barbecue safety is on the West Sussex County Council website.