A Ministry of Defence helicopter was brought in to ‘water bomb’ Hankley Common – requiring the closure of Frensham Great Pond car park and surrounding roads.

In a first for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, an Airbourne Solutions Eurocopter AS350 helicopter made numerous trips from the Great Pond to Hankley on Wednesday, July 27, in a bid to help fire crews halt the spread of the fire.

Firefighters were still damping down and extinguishing hot spots to the north of the common on July 30 and 31, but finally handed the common back to the MoD and reopened public rights of way last Tuesday (August 2).

It came nine days after a huge blaze broke out at around midday on Sunday, July 24, affecting around 120 acres of Hankley Common, an area equal to 60 football pitches.

A total of 19 fire crews from Surrey and Hampshire fought to contain it, supported by Waverley’s borough police team, the Ministry of Defence Police, and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation – as well as local residents, farmers and Hankley Common Golf Club.

Surrey’s acting chief fire officer Dan Quin spoke of the joint effort: “This is the first time in Surrey that we have coordinated water bombing activities from a helicopter to support firefighting operations.

“This additional effort between ourselves, the Ministry of Defence and Surrey Police should go some way in helping us put an end to this wildfire.

“I am very proud of all of the crews and staff who’ve worked on this incident. It’s been another long incident in difficult weather conditions, but we are getting there.

“I’d also like to thank residents, local farmers and the Hankley Common Golf Club who’ve helped us along the way.”

Inspector Sam Adcock, Borough Commander for Waverley, said: “We have been supporting our colleagues at the fire service throughout the week to help contain the fire at Hankley Common, which included aerial firefighting exercises.

“A number of road closures were in place which have now been lifted.”