UK: Surrey fire service declares major incident after 100 homes evacuated

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Surrey fire and rescue service has declared a major incident as crews continue to battle a 40-hectare wildfire that has reportedly led to as many as 100 homes being evacuated as a precaution.

The blaze started in Chobham Common on Friday as temperatures in the south-east soared and spread to Wentworth golf course, halting play in the Rose Ladies Series Grand Final tournament.

The fire service tweeted: “Major incident – Chobham Common, Heath Fire – Relief crews are now proceeding from across Surrey to continue firefighting operations. Local roads remain closed by Surrey Police – Please remain clear of Chobham Common.”

It said further updates would follow. Theseverity of the fire was at level four, “meaning the risk of wildfires and rapid spread of fire can occur”.

At least 10 fire engines, two water carriers and 10 other vehicles were attending the scene and working to tackle the blaze.

Griff Ryan, 23, who lives in Sunningdale, near the fire, said it began with a “strange light” at around 1pm on Friday before smoke and then later a “wall of flames”.

“Smoke got gradually worse and ash began falling into our garden. At around 5pm fire still wasn’t visible from the road,” he said. “Over about half an hour it’s become visible and now can see a wall of flames down towards the railway line. Other residents I’ve spoken to have said it’s the worst they’ve seen in 30 years.”

About 41 hectares of grass and undergrowth were alight, and smoke from the fire was visible well over 10 miles away.

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Surrey search and rescue sent a drone up to monitor the fire and its team remained on scene supporting emergency services.

Parts of the UK could experience record overnight temperatures this weekend as the mini-heatwave continues. Friday was hottest August day in 17 years, with 36.4C recorded at Heathrow and Kew Gardens in London.

Michael Gove,the MP for Surrey Heath, described the fire as a tragedy and thanked the emergency services for their help in dealing with the incident.

He tweeted: “I’m horrified by the damage this wildfire has done to Chobham Common – and hope people will heed this evacuation warning – thanks to Surrey Fire and Rescue service for their bravery in tackling this terrible tragedy.”

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