Marshland blaze at RSPB reserve extinguished

Around a square kilometre of marsh at Parkgate, near Neston, was damaged in what is thought to be a deliberately lit fire.

20 March 2022

A large blaze thought to have been started deliberately on marshland on the Wirral is no longer burning.

Just before 7am on Sunday Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed staff had carried out a thermal imaging sweep of the area and there was no sign of fire.

Fire engines were called at around 6.20pm on Saturday to Parkgate, near Neston, where around a square kilometre of marsh was in flames.

Wirral fire
The blaze is affecting around one square kilometre of marsh (Jack Dugdale/ PA)

The fire prompted concerns for wildlife on the marsh, which is an area of special scientific interest and a reserve cared for by wildlife charity RSPB.

Police have been advised it is suspected that the fire was started deliberately.

The fire service said six engines were deployed with firefighters initially battling two areas with beaters and hoses. Later in the evening crews set up fire breaks to protect nearby properties after leaving the fire to burn due to unstable ground.

Station manager Carl Nevitt, the officer in charge, said on Saturday night: “The marshland is a site of special scientific interest.

“The fire is covering around one square kilometre of the area and is being driven by wind.

Wirral fire
Fire crews are tackling the blaze (Andy Parry/PA)

“We have created fire breaks to protect properties and the police air support unit has been used to give us information on the directional spread of the blaze.”

An RSPB spokesperson said: “We’re shocked and saddened by the fire that has devastated the Neston Reedbed part of our reserve this evening.

“The full extent of the damage won’t be known until daylight tomorrow, and we’ll share further details once more information emerges.”

People have taken to social media to express their horror, with one Twitter user describing the fire as a “dreadful sight”.

Another wrote: “This is terrible and a disaster for wildlife at the start of the breeding season.”

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