Forest fires wreak havoc in driest spell for centuries

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The Independent Online
Two fierce forest fires raged in southern England last night. One of them, which police are treating as suspicious, destroyed woodland on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. The fires came as Britain is experiencing its driest two-year spell for 200 years.

More than 200 firefighters tackled the Dartmoor fire, which covered about 14 acres. Flames tore through gorse and woodland and threatened a nature reserve. Roads were closed and emergency services ready to evacuate homes as the fire spread across several square miles near Bovey Tracey in Devon. The fire is the second to hit this area of the moor in less than a week.

Five days ago, 60 firemen fought flames covering several square miles at Postbridge, in the heart of the moor. Police spokesman Inspector Nick Thomas said last night his officers were treating yesterday's fire as suspicious.

Meanwhile, fire crews in Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire fought for four hours to put out a fire which destroyed nearly 50 acres of woodland near Broadmoor Hospital.