Ashland Forest, one of the largest public access spaces in South East England and the setting for A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories, was ravaged by fire earlier this week.
According to the forest’s official Twitter account, the fire started around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night, and was out by 4 a.m. Monday morning, with roughly 15 hectares affected. “Thanks to @EastSussexFRS, @WestSussexFire and @kentfirerescue for their response to the fire,” the tweet said.
Hannah Scott-Youldon, assistant director, training and assurance for East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, posted an image of the fire, stating: "Crews working hard in arduous conditions. Crews from @EastSussexFRS @WestSussexFire and @sussex_police including the drone and superbly supported by @Sussex_Fire_999 – at Ashdown Forest."
A statement issued by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that firefighters from Crowborough, Mayfield, Heathfield, Uckfield, Forest Row, Lewes, and Seaford, together with support from West Sussex and Kent Fire and Rescue, were at the scene of a large fire in Ashdown Forest.
Incident Commander Andrew Gausden from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said in the statement: "We received numerous calls at 9:30 last night from members of the public and the police regarding a fire in the Ashdown Forest. The fire took hold quickly and was significant with approximately 15 hectares alight in a valley area behind the back of Duddleswell.”
Firefighters do not yet know the cause of the fire. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is working closely with Sussex Police and the Ashdown Forest Rangers to investigate the cause. The fire is not currently being seen as having been caused deliberately.
For Milne, who wrote the original stories about Winnie the Pooh and his friends, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet, Ashdown Forest served as the inspiration for Pooh & friends’ fictional home of Hundred Acre Wood.
Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories have been adapted by Walt Disney, primarily as animated films and TV shows. In August, Disney released Christopher Robin, a live-action film about Pooh’s now all-grown-up friend, starring Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell.