Smokin’….

Smokin'....

This was from a couple of years ago. Not too far North of where we are their is a 16 square mile Pine Forest (Swinley Forest), part of the Crown Estate, that I use as a training area for my endurance walks. This was the scene late one sunday afternoon in May, 2011, after a forest fire had been burning for a couple of hours.

Spookily, I had walked the dog along the edge of the wood that morning and had caught the odd whiff of smoke. Because of where it was, their were huge logistics problems for the fire service attempting to contain and extinguish it. I cant remember how many engines were needed, but I do recollect their were over 300 firemen fighting it at its height. They had to run hoses over 3 miles to the Royal Military Academy which has a huge lake for water. Their were some spectacular pictures posted of flames leaping across a road(which ended up being closed for about 2 weeks).

The wind was blowing the flames and smoke west. I had to drive through the village of Crowthorne to pick up my daughter and it was like driving through very dense fog(a bit like a scene out of the film, The Fog!). Very difficult to breath too.

Lessons have been learned. Their are now serious firebreaks on both sides of the road to stop the flames leaping across.. as well as deep ditches too. The smell of burnt wood lasted for about a month or more. A major challenge for the fire service was that for a while, the peat was burning underground, causing new outbreaks.

What amazed me was that families were going out on their bikes into the forest to ‘have a look’ putting themselves and potentially the fire service who would need to rescue them at risk. . Luckily no one was hurt. People do do the stupidest things…

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