Fire at Pennington Common - Lymington and Pennington Town Council

Fire at Pennington Common

Image of fire at Pennington Common

Sunday 24 July 2022 Lymington New Forest

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A wildfire broke out on Sunday 24th July 2022 at Pennington Common. The first call was put into the emergency services at 14.40, with officers from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire service on site by 14.48.

The fire was bought under control within 1.5 hours using two caf jets, four main jets and five hose reels with firefighters from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire service also in attendance. Fire crews stayed until 18.48 to damp down, with crew returning on Monday morning to extinguish a hot spot.

The extent of damage travelled from the NW boundary along Ramley Road starting near to the play area and stretching towards St Marks Graveyard covering an area of approximately 0.5s hectares. At the height of the fire, thick smoke engulfed homes with the wind causing the smoke to travel many kms across Pennington and Lymington and into Boldre. No serious injuries were recorded.

Pennington Common is in the ownership of Lymington and Pennington Town Council and the management of the SSSI, part of the New Forest National Park, is undertaken in conjunction with Natural England and support from the Higher-Level Stewardship scheme.

Gorse mulching is used to reduce clumps and create fire breaks between areas of gorse, with an annual visit from an Environmental and Land Management consultant advising of areas of gorse that need to be mulched. Mulching can only be carried out from late Sept - late Feb, due to nesting birds. The necessary amount of gorse was successfully mulched by the Woodland management team in Winter 2021/2022.

Under the HLS scheme the grass can only be cut once a year from the 1st July onwards. The cutting date is altered year on year to allow for different flowers to have produced seeds, as some variety in the cutting regime is beneficial. Grass cutting took place in September 2021 and is scheduled to take place on 28 July 2022.

The Town Clerk contacted the Fire and Safety Protection Officer and Station Commander for Lymington and Pennington to ascertain if more could have been done to prevent the fire and spread, along with managing further risk during these dry conditions.

They advised that the fire breaks in the gorse worked well, enabling them to bring the fire under control quickly. Further mulching is advised near the churchyard. Had the Common already had its annual grass cut, it would have made no difference to the outcome of the fire, with gorse and dry conditions being the cause for spread.

How the wildfire started is unknown and the Town Council asks those visiting the Common to exercise caution during these very dry conditions with anything that could potentially ignite a fire.

Lymington and Pennington Town Council wishes to thank the Fire Rescue Teams that worked with professionalism and skill to bring the fire under control so quickly, we are grateful that their quick actions ensured the safety of the local community. 

Carousel images are courtesy of Cllr Andrew Gossage and the image of the flames on the common is by Deirdre Hume. Thank you to the photographers too.

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