Arsonists target country park at three locations

Smouldering gorse in the aftermath of the fire
Smouldering gorse in the aftermath of the fire

A SUSPECTED arson attack at Hastings Country Park on Sunday afternoon (September 25) triggered a large-scale operation to bring the fire under control.

As fire crews fought to prevent the blaze - which originated at three separate sites - from spreading, they were supported by police, park rangers, coastguard, and both RNLI lifeboats.

The fires started in three areas of gorse between Ecclesbourne Glen and Fairlight and as a result of the wind, spread to encompass about an acre of land.

The alarm was raised by a member of the public, who spotted the fire and called the rangers’ out-of-hours line at 3pm. The fire service was then called to the scene.

Park rangers used their detailed knowledge of the park’s geography to help the emergency services secure the area. They were also positioned strategically to turn away members of public.

Ranger Julie Apps said: “The fire service, coastguards, RNLI, rangers and police worked together in a multi-agency approach to achieve the best outcome which was no one hurt and minimum damage to the Covehurst Woods area of the country park.”

An area of the park popular with walkers was closed to the public until 6pm, while around 20 firefighters worked to contain the fire.

The coastguard and lifeboat crews were on hand to offer advice.

Bud White, Hastings Lifeboat station officer, said: “Because of the amount of people who were down on the beach, there was a concern that members of the public would have to be evacuated via the sea.

“Fortunately it wasn’t as serious as it may well have been.”

Fire crews returned on Monday morning with rangers to check the site, and confirmed that there was no sign of smoke.

A spokesman for Sussex Police confirmed that the incident is being investigated.