Christmas Eve beacon lighting and high winds blamed for Bracken Hill fire in Alnmouth

The Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service were called to a large blaze in Alnmouth on Christmas Eve. Credit: Steven Miller

A fire service has confirmed that the lighting of a beacon was the cause of a huge fire in Northumberland on Christmas Eve.

Four fire engines and a fogging unit were dispatched to Alnmouth during the evening with the public urged to avoid the area.

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service were called just after 6pm and left the area by 8pm, but at its height the fire could be seen almost five miles away.

The service have now confirmed that the lighting of a beacon on Bracken Hill was the cause of the blaze after it quickly spread to nearby areas due to high winds.

The fire had been put out by 8pm on Christmas Eve but caused extensive damage to the hillside. Credit: Mark Church

Graeme Binning, chief fire officer at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It has been confirmed that the fire started following the tradition of lighting one of the beacons at the top of the hill. The fire then quickly spread to the nearby grass and trees due to the very high winds.

"Four fire appliances, a fogging unit and two officers attended the scene. Firefighters were working in challenging conditions due to the strong winds, but the fire was brought under control as quickly as possible.

"We recognise the important tradition of lighting the beacons and other celebrations during the festive period but advise people to take care, and to carry out an assessment of any site beforehand. The assessment should consider a range of risk factors including high winds."

Mr Binning said the service would be working with the community to "review risk-assessments and decision-making protocols" around the lighting of beacons.

He also paid tribute to the team who helped fight the blaze due to the "challenging conditions".

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