Winnie-the-Pooh forest fire destroys up to 50 acres

International News

“Winnie-the-Pooh” fans know the beloved bear and his friends live in the “Hundred Acre Wood,” but the real-life forest that inspired the children’s story — Ashdown Forest — is being destroyed by flames, BBC News reports.

Nearly 50 acres of Ashdown Forest in Sussex County, United Kingdom, had burned by Monday night. At the height of the blaze, six fire crews were on the scene. The emergency personnel has since been scaled back to four crews, a fire service spokesman said.

“It’s unusual to have a fire of this size at night. This seems to have caught hold before people noticed the fire,” the spokesman said. “The undergrowth was very dry in the forest, despite the recent rain, and the fire caught quite quickly.”

Ashdown Forest was once the home to author A.A. Milne. The “Winnie-the-Pooh” creator lived in the area, near the town of Hartfield, in the 1920s, when he came up with “The Hundred Acre Woods.”

The forest was originally used for deer hunting but it is now under national and international protection because of its wildlife. While Winnie-the-Pooh and friends are just imaginary inhabitants, there are many creatures that live in the woods now suffering from the fire.

Ground-nesting birds likely saw their eggs and nests destroyed in the blaze, Ashdown Forest Ranger Chris Sutton said. “Reptiles like adders and lizards would not have been able to move fast enough. Large animals like foxes and deer would have been able to move out of the area quite quickly.”

However, “all is not lost,” Sutton said.  “Within four weeks we’ll have grass growing and in six months you probably won’t know too much has gone on here.”

It is not believed that the fire was started deliberately, the BBC reports. In February, the forest suffered two fires which were accidentally started by volunteers during a planned burning.

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