Field fire in Little Marlow prompts multi-agency response

Tue 3 Jul, 2018

Field fire in Little Marlow

Crews have now left the scene of yesterday's field fire in Little Marlow, which led to a multi-agency response including more than 100 firefighters.

Thames Valley Fire Control Service received the first of about 90 calls to the fire near Wyevale Garden Centre in Pump Lane South shortly after 4pm. The first crews to attend, from High Wycombe Fire Station, were faced with a fire involving about 10 acres of standing and cut crops.

Group Commander Steve Wells from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service said: "The incident commander deployed crews to prevent the fire from spreading and shortly afterwards sent a priority message for four more fire engines.

"In order to mitigate the rate at which the fire was developing, crews started the process of creating  fire breaks. However, as the incident developed further, additional resources were requested and at 5pm the incident commander sent the message ‘make pumps 20’."

At the height of the incident, there were 20 pumping appliances, four water carriers, a high-volume pump, seven officers, the Incident Command Unit, the British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's drone. 

Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service and their Hazardous Area Response Team were also in attendance, with several multi-agency meetings conducted on scene.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's crews were assisted by colleagues from Royal Berkshire, Oxfordshire, London and Warwickshire

Due to the prevailing winds, the fire spread to a group of industrial units and also managed to ‘jump’ the A404, resulting in a further fire starting near residential properties in Marlow. Twenty members of the public were treated and discharged on scene for suspected smoke inhalation, with one person being transported to hospital as a precautionary measure.

Steve added: "To bring the incident safely under control, three separate sectors were established with crews needing to deploy more than 10 firefighting jets, with water supplies provided via a water relay.  Due to the effective intervention of the attending crews, further fire spread was prevented, resulting in no damage being sustained to either the garden centre or properties on the outskirts of Marlow."

An area covering about 30 hectares, comprising mixed grassland and crops, was destroyed, with two industrial units and one domestic property also severely damaged by fire and smoke. Fire crews remained at the incident overnight and during the course of today, turning over and damping down. The last crew left the scene at about 4pm. 

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated. Preliminary indications are that it was not deliberate.

Steve added: "There remains a severe risk of further fires of this nature. We are urging people to take extra care, particularly with bonfires, barbecues and cigarettes, to avoid the risk of starting an outdoor fire during the hot, dry weather."

Click here for seasonal safety advice.

Firefighters are also asking people who want to air their homes following the fire to make sure there is no smoke in the area before opening their windows.

If you haven't tested your smoke alarms recently, please check them now and remember to make monthly checks from now on.