Baggy Point: Devon beauty spot 'will take years to recover' after huge fire sparked by BBQ

  • Watch gorse fire burn from above

A gorse fire that tore through a beauty spot in Devon has destroyed the habitat of several species.

The headland is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) but a fire on bank holiday Monday scorched more than five and a half hectares.

The blaze could be seen from miles around as smoke billowed out across the sea.

It is home to several species including reptiles, small mammals and butterflies and is also a nesting site for many types of seabirds.

Today (September 1), the National Trust said the land will take years to fully recover and could cost up to £10,000.

Credit: National Trust

National Trust lead ranger, Jonathan Fairhurst, said: "This is the most severe fire we’ve seen on National Trust land in North Devon in recent years.

"The coastline at Baggy Point is a haven for many types of reptile, small mammal and invertebrate and acts as a nesting site for many types of seabird. So it’s been upsetting to see these amazing habitats go up in smoke.

"Thankfully the nesting season has finished which means the local birdlife hasn’t been badly affected although nesting sites are unlikely to recover for a couple of years."

The fire took 70 firefighters to bring under control and is believed to have been started by a disposable barbecue - despite frequent warnings by fire services over the summer.

The fire is believed to have been started by a disposable barbecue. Credit: Richard Gregory/National Trust

Rob Joules, the National Trust’s general manager for North Devon added: ‘We’re so grateful to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service for their efforts, and for all the offers of support we’ve received.

"Unfortunately, this was another fire started by people, and could have so easily been avoided.

"Climate change is really magnifying the risk of fires breaking out, and while we’ve had some rain over the past few weeks, the ground is still incredibly dry.

"We want people to enjoy the outdoors but not at the expense of damaging landscapes and putting lives at risks. We urge everyone to listen to the fire services – don’t bring BBQs to the open countryside, extinguish and responsible dispose of cigarettes, and take any rubbish home with you."