A STARK warning has gone out that Surrey could face more devastating wild fires like the one at Brookwood Cemetery if the unseasonably dry weather continues.
Fire crews from Woking, Camberley, Farnham and Haslemere battled for more than two hours to contain a blaze which raged over 17 acres of Britain’s biggest cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.
Six fire engines, two water tankers and specialist Land Rover off-road vehicles were brought in to tackle the flames after receiving a 999 call shortly before 2pm.
A Surrey Fire and Rescue Service spokesman confirmed no properties were affected by the blaze at Cemetery Pales.
And, more importantly, none of the 40 firefighters who attended the scene were injured.
The lack of rain and tinder box dry conditions provide the perfect recipe for wild fires. Once they start they can spread quickly, and are notoriously difficult to controlAlthough the flames were brought under control by 4pm, fire crews stayed at the scene until 9.30pm.
The fire broke out in the Old Woking clay pigeon shooting range in the grounds of the cemetery.
Each year, there are around 79,000 wildfires in Britain but that figure could increase this year because so much of the countryside is tinder dry.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service area manager Alan Clark said wildfires were notoriously difficult to control.
He said: ”These fires cause devastation to the countryside, wildlife and property. They pose a risk to life, both to the public and the firefighters tackling these blazes.
“The lack of rain and tinder box dry conditions provide the perfect recipe for wild fires. Once they start they can spread quickly, and are notoriously difficult to control.
“They cause devastation to the countryside, wildlife and property and obviously pose a risk to life.”
The 500-acre Brookwood site contains the bodies of more than 235,000 people who have died since since 1854, including soldiers killed in the First and Second World Wars.
Brookwood Cemetery managing director Erkin Guney was out of the country on business when he learned of the fire.
A hosepipe ban is due to be enforced across Woking from Thursday, April 5, after two abnormally dry winters.