Fire crews tackle blaze on Parkgate marshland on the Wirral
It's thought the blaze was started deliberately
Firefighters are tackling a blaze thought to have been started deliberately on marshland on the Wirral.
Fire engines were scrambled to the scene where around a square kilometre of marsh is in flames at Parkgate, near Neston, at around 6.20pm on Saturday.
The fire has prompted concerns for wildlife on the marsh, which is an area of special scientific interest and a reserve cared for by wildlife charity RSPB.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said six fire engines were on site with firefighters initially battling two areas of fire with beaters and hoses.
However, at around 9.20pm it said one fire engine had withdrawn and crews were leaving the fire to burn due to unstable ground.
Meanwhile, fire breaks have been set up to protect nearby properties.
The fire service also said police have been advised it is suspected that the fire was started deliberately and a fire investigator is due to attend.
Station manager Carl Nevitt, the officer in charge of the incident, said: “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.
“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.
“We expect to remain at the scene for at least the next three to four hours and would ask that people stay away from the area as we tackle the fire.”
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.”