Animals forced to ‘flee in terror’ as nature reserve engulfed by horrendous fire

Animals at a nature reserve have been forced to flee for their lives after a devastating fire broke out, a witness said.

A major gorse blaze at Bartinnery Nature Reserve, in Penzance, has seen firefighters battling flames which have ravaged the surrounding landscape on Monday.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has been inundated with calls, as the fire – believed to have started last night – can be seen across the Lands End vicinity.

Many of the reserve’s animals, meanwhile, are feared to have perished.

Local resident Martin Cavell has captured the scene in a number of horrifying photos.

Mr Cavell said he saw hordes of wildlife “fleeing in terror” and said fire crews at the scene believe the fire had been slowly building overnight before being noticed.

Promoted Stories
“I am disgusted by the whole thing,” he said.

“It is a nature reserve. I witnessed skylarks, linnets, dunnocks, warblers and a short-eared owl all fleeing in terror and also saw voles escaping.

“Many adders and small mammals would have gone to ground and would have perished.

“The Wildlife Trust officer was there and he was devastated at what he saw.

“A fireman told me the fire started last night. Fire crews were in attendance, but in truth there is little they can do in these winds but concentrate on protecting homes.

“Whoever started this is, at best, irresponsible.

“Nature will reclaim it in a few years, that is true, but for now this wildlife habitat is barren.”

Crews from St Just, Penzance, St Ives, Perranporth and Helston remain at the scene on Monday evening.

“A total of five appliances, two light support vehicles and a water carrier, crews are fighting a large fire on two separate fronts,” a spokesman for the Fire Service confirmed at 3.20pm.

The gorse fire comes just days after 999 services and the Met Office issued a bank holiday warning.

Last week Devon and Cornwall Police sent out an alert to residents in the region just a few weeks after a series of unexpected wildfires on Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor.