A huge forest fire in Dorset has been declared a major incident as more than 150 firefighters continue to battle the blaze.

Emergency services were called to Wareham Forest yesterday afternoon, where approximately 100 hectares of heath and woodland have so far been ravaged by fire.

According to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, strong winds were fanning the flames. 

South West Farmer:

Picture: DWFRS

Initially, 14 fire engines were sent to the scene. This was later increased to 28, and more than 150 firefighters have been tackling the blaze at Sugar Hill in Bere Road.

A spokesman for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said last night it's going to be a long-lasting incident they expect to carry on for at least the next 24 hours.

Read more: Warnings of increased risk of wildfires during dry spell

Aerial photos taken by NPAS show the sheer scale of the blaze and the devastation caused.

People are urged to avoid the area and keep windows closed due to the smoke, particularly if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

The A35, between Bere Regis and Morden Park Corner, as well as Sugar Hill and Bere Road have been closed due to the smoke plume affecting a wide area and making them impassable.

They are likely to remain closed today and you are advised to check your route before travelling.

The smoke is being blown towards the Bournemouth, Poole, Ferndown and Wimborne areas. 

  • Smoke billowing from the forest     Video by Sam Barnes

Local people are also being made aware that due to the electricity pylons in the forest being affected by the fire, there may be some disruption to supplies in the local area.

Residents should use the 105 service if they experience a power cut.

South West Farmer:

  • Crews at the scene last night  Picture: BEAMINSTER FIRE STATION/DWFRS

Currently at the scene are crews from Bere Regis, two from Wareham, Wimborne, two from Christchurch, three from Poole, Weymouth, Westbourne, two from Blandford, two from Dorchester, two from Swanage, Ferndown, Redhill Park, two from Sturminster Newton, Shaftesbury, two from Bridport, Verwood, Springbourne, Warminster and New Milton.

Also on scene are a Unimog from Wareham; water carriers from Poole, Christchurch, Bridport and Yeovil; Land Rover pumps from Poole, Hamworthy, Wimborne, Swanage, Ferndown, Blandford, Christchurch, Beaminster and Charmouth; support units from Hamworthy, Sherborne and Ferndown; and the high volume pump from Christchurch.

Crews are using hose reel jets, main lines and beaters to tackle the fire. Sugar Hill and Bere Road have been closed as the smoke has made them impassable.

Dorset Police received a report shortly after 1pm yesterday from the fire service in relation to a large fire in the area of Sugar Hill and Bere Road near Wareham.

Officers attended and put road closures in place on Bere Road between the A35 and Wareham.

The Dorset Marine Policing Team is assisting with the incident along with the NPAS helicopter.