Firefighters have warned people to avoid the area of Frensham Common affected by a wildfire this week after walkers were spotted close to the burnt heathland.
More than 25 acres of precious heath were destroyed after a wildfire swept across Frensham Common on Monday and Tuesday – with fire crews still on the scene to extinguish hot spots.
A fire service spokesman said on Tuesday: "We have had reports of people walking in the area. For your own safety and that of our crews, please avoid the area where the fire is – on the common area at the end of Sandy Lane."
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service was called out just after 10pm on Monday (May 29) after a fire broke out in the middle of the common, sending orange flames high into the night sky.
Crews spent all night tackling the blaze, and “re-escalated” its response on Tuesday morning in anticipation of warm, sunny and breezy weather conditions.
As of Wednesday morning, fire crews with one Unimog and one multi-role vehicle remained on the common patrolling for hot spots, alongside wildfire advisors and countryside rangers.
Photos of the blaze were captured from the Devil’s Jumps near Churt by Emily Cracknell on her Monday evening walk. She said the fire was “pretty central” on the common, north-east of Millais Nurseries.
Frensham Great Pond and Common covers roughly 1,000 acres of attractive countryside and is owned by the National Trust. Most of the land is managed by Waverley Borough Council.
The common is made up of a large area of heathland, together with woodland and two large ponds, Frensham Great and Little Ponds, which were built in the Middle Ages to provide fish for the Bishop of Winchester’s estate.
The site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and includes dry heath, wet heath, open water, reedbeds, alder carr and woodland.
The heathland is an internationally-rare habitat and the common supports a wealth of associated wildlife including sand lizards, Dartford warblers, nightjars and unusual plants such as the insectivorous sundew.
A spokesman for the Thames Basin Heaths Partnership said: “This is the sight we dread! A wildfire is shocking at any time of year, but particularly sad at the moment, when nightjars are laying their first eggs.”
Frensham Common has been the location of several wildfires over recent years, the most devastating being the 2010 blaze that destroyed almost 90 acres of heath.