Bats lose their home after cigarette causes tree fire in Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon and Putney Commons are warning of the dangers of smoking after a fire broke out inside an old oak tree.

Creatures lost their home when the tree at Wimbledon Common had to be felled for safety reasons.

It set on fire when a cigarette was stubbed out during the heatwave last Friday.

The tree was already dead but had been left as a good habitat for bats, birds and insects.

Stephen Bound, chief operation manager of Wimbledon and Putney Commons, did not believe the fire had been caused by malicious intent.

“The person who did this obviously didn’t realise the danger,” he said.

“We wanted to raise awareness of the dangers that arise and ask that if you smoke please be careful where you stub your cigarette.”

If the fire had not been reported to the park rangers so quickly the fire could have spread through the tree causing it to collapse and create a larger scale fire throughout the woodland.

As the tree was already dead and particularly dry because of the recent lack of rain it had caught on fire easily.

Wimbledon Common had had multiple issues with fires during the heatwave including what appeared to be a deliberate arson attempt.

The park rangers found a small fire at the edge of an area of woodland and matches were found at the scene.

The park rangers want to stress that barbecues are not allowed on the commons as the fire poses a threat to the woodland and wildlife, particularly during the dry spell.

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