Britian’s largest cemetery has caught fire after, tinder box dry conditions sparked wildfires as drought grips the South East of England. The blaze was raging over 17 acres of the 500-acre Brookwood Cemetery near Woking in Surrey.
More than 40 firefighters, six fire engines, a water tanker and six specialist off-road vehicles battled the fire, which started just after 2pm on Tuesday 27th March.
Fire service Area Manager Alan Clark commented on the fire saying that the dry condition provide the perfect recipe for wildfires. Once started the fires will spread rapidly, making the flames difficult to control.
The fire’s destructive path caused major devastation to the countryside wildlife and the property. The fire will pose risks to life, as both the public and the firefighters who tackle the flames.
Wildfires are not normally witnessed in the UK due to the wetter climate. It is more common in places like Australia, where long-periods of hot dry weather only need the smallest of ignitions to cause a raging and violent fire. Figures had shown that up until the year 2000, bushfires in the southern hemisphere country cost A$2.5 billion.
Although the cost is unlikely to be the same for the UK, it is a definite sign of changing weather patterns through possible effects from global warming.
Council leader David Hodge also spoke about the fire saying that, upcoming events such as the Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee will be a few of the reasons people will be lighting up barbeques during the summer.
He has urged people to take care. The blazes can start for various reasons, a misplaced cigarette or even a bonfire all of which can spark a wildfire.
The Surrey fire forced motorists to take extra care as visibility became limited along Bagshot Road and Connaught Road. Brookwood cemetery opened in 1854 and was established to reduce the problem of overcrowding in London’s existing burial crowds. It is estimated that the cemetery along holds graves for more than 240, 000 people. A special railway known as the Necropolis Railway was constructed to convey coffins and mourners to Brockwood from a station located near London Waterloo.
The fires erupted as many parts of Britain have sweltered in high temperatures of 23C although forecasters are suggesting that the warm weather would not continue past the weekend. The lack of rainfall and early sunshine means that hosepipe bans would most likely occur later in the year. The Environmental Agency has warned that parks of Yorkshire have officially been declared in drought.