MORE than 60 firefighters dealt with a huge heath fire in Verwood for several hours on Wednesday.
Fire crews from across Dorset and the New Forest rushed to the scene of the incident at St Stephen’s Lane.
The blaze involved approximately 4.7 hectares of gorse and heathland.
Residents living nearby were urged to keep their windows and doors closed due to the smoke.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the fire is not yet known and due to the continued warm, dry weather means the risk of wildfire "remains high".
The fire, which was reported called at 4.19pm, was being fanned by the windy conditions, the fire service said.
At the height of the incident, there were fire engines on scene from Verwood, Ringwood, Wimborne (x2), Christchurch, Poole, Shaftesbury, Fordingbridge and Ferndown.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said because of the difficult access to the affected area, small 4x4 pumping appliances were also sent from Verwood, Cranborne, Wimborne, Ferndown, Ringwood, Burley, Lyndhurst, Hamworthy, Poole and Christchurch.
The Unimog from Wareham, a water carrier from Poole and support appliances from Salisbury and Ferndown also attended.
Firefighters used eight hose reel jets and four main jets to tackle the fire, which was under control shortly after midnight, with relief crews brought in throughout the evening. One fire engine and two small 4x4 appliances remain on scene this morning (8am) damping down and dealing with hot spots.
The fire service has urged people not to have barbecues or campfires on the heath or in open spaces as the risk of a fire starting is “too great”.
People have also been urged to eextinguish cigarettes properly and not throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows.
Anyone who sees a fire in the countryside, should call 999 and report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service.
The fire service said people should provide as much detail as possible about location and access, but also make sure you are in a safe place.
More information on staying safe and enjoying outside areas whilst avoiding starting a wildfire can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/heath-fires-and-countryside-safety.
If you see anything suspicious on the heath or in an open space, report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.