Ashdown Forest, the real-life setting of A.A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh books, was ravaged by fire on Sunday, April 28.
The East Sussex Fire and Rescue Services reported that the fire started around 9:30 p.m. and immediately spread across an area of up to 50 acres. Six fire crews were on the scene to control the fire.
Ashdown Forest On Fire
"It's unusual to have a fire of this size at night," stated Andrew Gausden from the fire services. "This seems to have caught hold before people noticed the fire."
The authorities do not believe that the fire was started deliberately, but the undergrowth on the forest floor was very dry despite the recent rain. Chris Sutton, a forest ranger, added that the bracken in the area "was dry as straw." That is why the fire caught quickly. An investigation is currently ongoing to identify what caused the forest fire.
The firefighters declared the forest fire under control around 4 a.m. on Monday but authorities remained on the ground to make sure that the fire is fully out. They left the scene around 10 a.m.
Ashdown Forest Drone (with permission of course) pic.twitter.com/tr8mTMCSyN — eddie mitchell (@brightonsnapper) April 29, 2019
Wildlife In Ashdown Forest Affected
Ashdown Forest was the inspiration behind Hundred Acre Wood, the fictional home of Winnie the Pooh and his friends Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and others. A.A. Milne, author of the books, and his family lived in the Cotchford Farm in nearby Hartfield in East Sussex while writing the popular series in the 1920s.
However, while Winnie The Pooh and friends are fictional, Ashdown Forest is still home to a variety of animals, including nightjars and Dartford warblers. According to authorities, larger animals like foxes and deers probably got out of the affected area and are safe. However, reptiles like adders and lizards could not move fast enough to get away from the fire before it spread.
"All is not lost — within four weeks we'll have grass growing and in six months you probably won't know too much has gone on here," assured Sutton. He added that the wildlife will repopulate the areas devastated by the forest fire.
Ashdown Forest is located within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.