FIREFIGHTERS have been praised for preventing a blaze from spreading to the main part of a Weymouth nature reserve – although it's emerged that birds' nests and eggs were still destroyed in the flames.

Firecrews tackled a large blaze on the edge of the RSPB reserve at Lodmoor last Saturday, April 23.

Three fire appliances from Weymouth and Portland, with two Land Rover pumps from Bere Regis and Maiden Newton were tackling what was described as a ‘significant heath fire’ in a reeded area behind Lodmoor Country Park.

The RSPB says vegetation fires at this time of year will kill a host of animals.

In particular it would have wiped out the homes of song thrushes and Cetti’s warblers which were breeding in the area.

A spokesperson for the RSPB said: “Saturday's fire didn't spread onto the RSPB reserve at Lodmoor, thanks to the efforts of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“While we are relieved about this and hugely grateful for the efforts of the fire crew, any vegetation fire at this time of year will cause damage to wildlife – destroying bird's nests and killing reptiles, mammals and insects.

“Song thrushes and Cetti’s warblers were breeding in this area and their nests and eggs will have been destroyed in the flames.”

Investigations are now underway to determine the cause of the fire which flared up after another Amber wildfire alert was issues for the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service area, meaning there is a higher-than-usual risk of a wildfire starting and quickly spreading due to the warm, dry and breezy conditions.

A brigade spokeswoman said 0.5 hectares (5,000 square metres) of ‘scrubland’ was destroyed.

Police are working to establish the cause of the fire.

Matt Denton was walking back to Preston when he saw the smoke rising from the reserve.

He said: “We were on a dog walk coming back from the Sainsbury’s area and saw smoke billowing from the nature reserve. When we got through Teddy Bear Woods we could see the smoke and flames clearly from the hill. By that point fire crews were on scene and tackling the blaze.”