Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service are continuing to support their Royal Berkshire colleagues in the aftermath of the Swinley Forest fire.

At the peak of the blaze in the middle of last week, there were 45 crews battling the fire, including fire engines from Gloucester, Cheltenham, Cirencester and Fairford.

The specially adapted Landrover from Cinderford that allows access to remote areas was also deployed, along with other 4x4s from the county. Supporting incident commanders from Gloucestershire have also been lending their expertise.

The fire has now been put out, but some firefighters are still deployed at the incident in case any hotspots flare up. About 740 acres of forest has been affected, of which 55% was damaged by the fire and forestry clearing operations.

At first, Gloucestershire crews were on standby at stations in Berkshire to provide fire cover for local communities but later became actively involved as more than 150 firefighters fought to bring the enormous blaze under control. 

One of the biggest problems faced by firefighters was water supply and 10 High Volume Pumps (HPVs) from across England, including the one based at Cirencester were committed from an early stage. 

Last night, a third relief fire crew was deployed and they will be in place until tomorrow, when it is hoped that the close-down for the incident will start. This part of the operation is likely to require ongoing logistical support.

Chief Fire Officer Jon Hall said: "Forest fires are always arduous and dangerous and this one has been no exception. The incident commander, Royal Berkshire's Deputy Chief Fire Officer Olaf Baars, has been very grateful for our support and has thanked all of our crews for their hard work.

"We know from our own experience from the 2007 floods that these types of incidents require huge resources and the work the firefighters are undertaking is very demanding. We were pleased to be able to offer our support while maintaining cover here in Gloucestershire. The experiences gained will help ensure that our local crews are well prepared to protect our own forest and rural environments in future."

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Youth, said: "Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service has again played a key role in supported national operations and gained valuable experience as a result. My thanks go to everyone who supported this incident and also to those that kept our county safe while others were away."


Posted: 13.55pm, 10.05.11