irefighters tackled a huge orange wildfire which was spread quickly by strong winds across heathland in Dorset.
Terrifying images showed flames ripping across the hilltops of Canford Heath in Poole with thick black smoke pouring into the air.
Fears for wildlife were sparked by the blaze in the largest heathland in Dorset, and the largest lowland heath in the UK.
It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a part of the Dorset Heathlands Special Protection Area.
Roads have been closed around the area with fire crews and police officers working to extinguish the blaze.
The fire service said on Twitter: “Unfortunately, we’re dealing with a significant fire on #CanfordHeath.
“Our firefighters are working hard to get the fire under control as it’s being driven by the strong winds. Please can all walkers, cyclists and onlookers avoid the heath.”
Dorset Police said: “Officers attended to assist the fire service and ensure the safety of members of the public.
“They left the scene at around 4.30pm. Enquiries to establish the cause of the fire are ongoing.”
Local Andy Whiting, tweeted: “Sad to see quite an extensive fire on Canford Heath.
“This is as well as the tragic effect on the wildlife.
“It must be concerning that the flames are quite close to the housing estate.”
Elizabeth Leddy, 28, from Poole, said there were multiple fire engines at the scene, with roads near to her house closed off.
She added: “The flames were close to spreading to the trees on the roadside at the intersection of Canford Heath road and Sherborn Crescent, they looked significant.
“The amount of smoke pluming out was like no Heath fire I’ve seen before.”
Another nearby resident said the “scary” fire meant she was stuck on her road.