Fire blazes through Ashdown Forest, Winnie the Pooh's 'Hundred Acre Wood'
Ashdown Forest, the woods featured in AA Milne's 'Winnie the Pooh' stories, has been burning since Sunday night
Winnie the Pooh's forest is on fire and has been burning overnight since it was first reported on Sunday evening.
According to the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, the blaze that engulfed Ashdown Forest was reported at 21:30 BST on Sunday, BBC reports.
Affecting an area of up to 50 acres in the Kingstanding area, gorse, shrubberies, and undergrowth caught fire that quickly spread to the surrounding dry vegetation. Six fire crews worked together at the scene when the blaze was at its peak. However, this has now been scaled down to four fire engines and crew after a major section was taken care of.
Firefighters have been battling a huge 6-hectare fire in the #KingStanding area of the #AshdownForest overnight. The response is being scaled down but the fire is still alight. Video from @brightonsnapper pic.twitter.com/r73z2r5qxi— BBC Sussex (@BBCSussex) April 29, 2019
The blaze was reportedly so intense that it destroyed a valley area near Duddleswell, said Fireman Andrew Gausden. "It's unusual to have a fire of this size at night. This seems to have caught hold before people noticed the fire," he said. "The undergrowth was very dry in the forest, despite the recent rain, and the fire caught quite quickly. We had numerous calls, including from the police who have a training center nearby."
At the moment, crews are ensuring the fire is totally contained. According to Gausden, the fire was not thought to have been started deliberately.
AA Milne, who created the Winnie the Pooh comics in the 1920s, drew inspiration from the forest while living in the area, near Hartfield. The Hundred Acre Wood — home to Pooh and his friends — is based on the Ashdown forest.
Meanwhile, Ashdown forest ranger Chris Sutton said the plants in the area were "as dry as straw" and would have certainly impacted ground-nesting birds such as nightjars and Dartford warblers.
"Reptiles like adders and lizards would not have been able to move fast enough. Large animals like foxes and deer would have been able to move out of the area quite quickly," Sutton said. "All is not lost — within four weeks we'll have grass growing and in six months you probably won't know too much has gone on here."
Sutton is optimistic, saying that animals and insects from surrounding areas would repopulate the affected areas within days.
Set in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ashdown Forest was originally used for deer hunting back in Norman times. However, it has recently been given national and international protection because of its rich wildlife.