BRIAN May – musician turned astrophysicist – was packing up precious possessions at the height of the wildfire on Sunningdale Golf Course, fearful the flames might spread to his home.

The lead guitarist with rock band Queen lives in Windlesham, on the edge of the golf course. He later tweeted his anger at a “fire-fighting service criminally cut back in manpower and resources”.

Dr May, who has a PhD in astrophysics, visited Chobham Common on Monday, after the fire was under control. He was accompanied by Anne Brummer, founder of the Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue charity in Windlesham.

He posted a photograph of them “surveying the forest fire which is still smouldering less than a mile from my own house and studio, and the fond relics of my entire life”.

He added: “I never imagined it could happen here in leafy, and normally damp, Surrey. We supported the fight against the immense fires in Australia, and watched sadly as fires ravaged California, but to see this happen in my own home county has been shocking and traumatic.

“Perhaps even more shocking was learning today that this wonderful force [Surrey Fire and Rescue Service], which is alert 24 hours a day to protect us all, has become tragically under supported in recent years.

“Something has gone terribly wrong with our leaders’ decision-making process. As long as we prioritise short-term economic gains over the lives of our people and the welfare of those who protect us, we will be a nation continually in danger.

“It becomes more and more clear that a radical rethink is needed.”

For more on the Chobham Common fire, get the 13 August edition of the News & Mail, in shops tomorrow