Gorse fire damages Southwold Golf clubhouse and pro shop and forces evacuation of The Harbour Inn

Southwold gorse fire, taken from the nearby lighthouse.. Picture: TOM BRIGHT

Southwold gorse fire, taken from the nearby lighthouse.. Picture: TOM BRIGHT - Credit: Tom Bright

A pub was evacuated and Southwold Golf Clubhouse and pro shop suffered substantial smoke damage as a fire destroyed more than 500 yards of shrubbery yesterday.

The blaze broke out just after 2pm yesterday and took hold of a large area of gorse and reed beds between Southwold and Walberswick, near the golf club.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service dispatched 15 vehicles and the incident was declared under control at 5.08pm. However, crews were due to return at 8pm and again this morning to ensure the fire did not reignite.

Area commander Ian Bowell said the blaze was exacerbated by the warm and dry weather.

The fire at Southwold Common on Sunday, May 7. Picture: JOHN NOTTAGE

The fire at Southwold Common on Sunday, May 7. Picture: JOHN NOTTAGE - Credit: Archant

“It’s very dry at the moment so it will burn very fiercely,” he added. “Some rain would quiet it down a little bit.”

Last month the brigade issued a warning after two heathland fires at Rushmere Heath on the eastern side of Ipswich and at Gunton, which is close to Pleasurewood Hills theme park near Lowestoft.

Group Commander Ian Mallett said: “With many people now on holiday and no sign of any serious rain in the forecasts, people need to be very careful when out enjoying themselves outside.

The fire at Southwold Common on Sunday afternoon. Picture: JOHN NOTTAGE

The fire at Southwold Common on Sunday afternoon. Picture: JOHN NOTTAGE - Credit: Archant

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“People need to be very careful if they have barbecues in this kind of area – but also if they discard cigarettes or even drop a bottle which can magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire.”

The cause of yesterday’s fire has not yet been established, but the brigade will carry out an investigation in due course.

No people or dogs were thought to have been hurt as a result of the fire.

Fire in Southwold. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Fire in Southwold. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Edward Harvey

However, Mr Bowell added: “I should imagine some wildlife sadly perished.”

At 2.50pm, police evacuated the The Harbour Inn in Southwold.

Southwold Golf Club also reported some of its facilities had been smoke damaged.

An update on the club’s Facebook page read: “A large gorse fire broke out today at 2.10pm adjacent to out 1st green. Over 500 yards of gorse around the 1st fairway, tee box, car park and practice ground have been destroyed.

“The clubhouse and pro shop has sustained substantial smoke damage.

“We will asses the conditions (today) and update accordingly.

“Sincere thanks to the six fire crews that attended.”

It added last night: “Many thanks to all the fire crews here right now, especially Wrentham who have been on site since the start.”

Road closures were put in place while firefighters worked at the scene. Crews attended from Wrentham, Halesworth, Lowestoft South, North Lowestoft, Leiston, Bury St Edmunds, Saxmundham and Beccles.