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Danger alert after 40 firefighters tackle gorse fire in Newhaven
Fire chiefs have issued a warning after a raging gorse fire burnt to within metres of a retirement village.
The Newhaven blaze saw some 40 firemen tackle 150 square metres of burning shrub land on a nature reserve on Sunday evening.
The source of the fire is not yet known – but there have been reports of youngsters running away from the scene shortly after emergency services were alerted.
Vincent O’Neill, crew manager at Newhaven Fire Station, said: “The hot weather has made areas such as this very dry.
“It only takes a discarded cigarette to start something like this and the consequences could be deadly. We want to get the message out there and warn people of the dangers.”
Resident Andy Collenette, of nearby Court Farm Road, was walking his dog when he saw the flames.
He said: “It was quite scary. I could see silhouettes up on the hill near the fire. The flames were five or six times their height.
“I dialled 999 immediately.”
Jenny Flood, who also lives nearby, said: “I could hear this crackling and then saw the flames. It was frightening, they were huge. There was a lot of smoke too.”
Six engines were on the scene in minutes.
'Waiting to ignite'
Crew manager O’Neill said his team first had to run hoses down to the road at the bottom of the hill to access the water hydrant.
He added: “Once we got the water up there we put it out fairly quickly. We then had to damp it all down and make the area safe.
“When the gorse is as dry as that, it’s just waiting to ignite.
“People need to be careful.”
The fire destroyed a large area of the Castle Hill Nature Reserve near Newhaven Fort.
Nature reserve managers are yet to visit the site but told The Argus it is likely wildlife has been killed.
Investigations are ongoing into the start of the fire with police investigating the sighting of youths running from the scene.
Fire inspectors are continuing their investigations.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101.
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