A MYSTERIOUS fire tore through one hectare of a wildlife reserve, potentially killing animals.

The blaze began on Sunday night at Filsham Reedbed nature reserve, which is near Hastings.

A hectare of reed bed habitat in the reserve burnt to the ground in the incident.

But after tackling the blaze, firefighters were unable to determine what caused the fire.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service classed the blaze as accidental.

Dan Ross, land management director of reserve owner Sussex Wildlife Trust, said it is likely animals were killed in the fire.

“It’s likely that any animals unable to outrun the flames will have perished,” he said.

The Argus: East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service deemed the blaze was accidentalEast Sussex Fire and Rescue Service deemed the blaze was accidental

“Sadly this may have included several birds’ nests but Cetti’s warblers were still present in the scrub surrounding the burned area in the aftermath of the fire.

“Whilst a significant area has been destroyed by fire, it is a relatively small section of Filsham Reedbed and we hope it will recover well over time.

“The fire was just metres from the edge of our nature reserve.”

Mr Ross warned nature reserves are at high risk of accidental fires because vegetation is “tinder dry” due to a lack of rain and the recent spell of extremely hot weather.

He added: “It is absolutely vital that people who are visiting our nature reserves and the wider countryside do not have barbecues, drop cigarette butts or leave any litter behind.

“That particularly goes for glass items as glass bottles can extremely easily start a fire.”