Cornwall's Bartinney Nature Reserve destroyed by fire with animals 'fleeing in terror'

Fire crews tackling large gorse fire in St Just, Cornwall
Fire crews tackled the large gorse blaze in St Just, Cornwall, which could be seen from three miles away. Credit: Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service.

Many animals are believed to have been killed in a large gorse fire at Bartinney Nature Reserve in Cornwall.

Five crews from St Just, Penzance, St Ives, Perranporth and Helston attended the scene, with the fire beginning yesterday morning.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the fire is spread out over 200 metres and smoke is visible from at least three miles away.

Nearby resident Martin Cavell said he saw hordes of wildlife "fleeing in terror".

Mr Cavell said: "I am disgusted by the whole thing. It is a nature reserve.

"I witnessed skylarks, linnets, dunnocks, warblers and a short-eared owl all fleeing in terror and also saw voles escaping.

"Many adders and small mammals would have gone to ground and would have perished.

"The Wildlife Trust officer was there and he was devastated at what he saw."Fire crews were in attendance, but in truth there is little they can do in these winds but concentrate on protecting homes. Whoever started this is, at best, irresponsible."Nature will reclaim it in a few years, that is true, but for now this wildlife habitat is barren."

Gorse Fire Credit: Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service

Cornwall Wildlife Trust said it was "deeply saddened to report that over 120 acres of land has been burned to the ground".

Callum Deveney, Head of Nature Reserves at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said that while controlled burns are an important way of managing heathlands, "they must be planned carefully and carried out at the right time of year".

"The fires that have burned at Bartinney Downs couldn’t have come at a worse time, with the awakening of nature in Spring and the arrival of newborn wildlife.

"Thankfully our costs to repair the damage look to be low but incidents such as these are a massive set back to our work and our ability to provide the best possible habitats for Cornwall’s wildlife.”

The fire service has received multiple calls from local residents in the Lands End area.

Five fire engines, two support vehicles and a water carrier have been called to get the blaze under control as crews tackle the fire on two fronts. Firefighters say the flames are being fanned by strong winds.

The gorse fire comes just days after 999 services and the Met Office issued a bank holiday warning.Last week Devon and Cornwall Police sent out an alert to residents in the region, following a series of unexpected wildfires on Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor that shocked residents and saw large numbers of firefighters battle the often hard-to-reach blazes.

The emailed alert noted how the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Fire Service have announced the increased risk of wildfires across the region.They stated at the time: "A 'Yellow Warning' has been issued by the Natural Hazards Partnership that covers the next five days. The Met Office Fire Severity Index rises to 'High' on Thursday. We are returning to drier conditions as we move into April."

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