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Arson link to marsh blaze.

A BLAZE which spread rapidly across marshland on the Wirral peninsula was today being blamed on youths.

Vandals are thought to have started the fire in the village of Parkgate, near Neston, yesterday afternoon.

The flames caused massive damage across a swathe of marshland, charring the natural habitat of many birds.

The RSPB was at the scene assessing the damage to the area.

Four fire engines including two from Ellesmere Port and one from Chester, were called out just after 3.30pm and discovered numerous seats of fire over a large area.

Using hose reel jets and handheld beaters they spent more than an hour and a half bringing the perimeter of the blaze under control before returning in the evening to tackle small pockets of fire.

Stunned locals described how the fire spread quickly before firefighters arrived Photographer Steve Ebrell told the ECHO: "The fire started at the bottom of Moorside Lane in Parkgate and quickly spread towards The Parade. Despite the fire brigade's best efforts it just spread too fast to keep it contained. As the fire spread more appliances arrived to try to head it off."

Bird-lovers and local residents took to social networking sites to express their dismay.

Tanith Facey wrote on Facebook: "Shame on the people that thought it was funny to set fire to the marshes in Parkgate."

A spate of grass fires in the area have been blamed by firefighters on the Easter school holidays.

An investigation into the blaze was underway today, but Cheshire fire service said the blaze was started by "smoking materials".

CAPTION(S):

BLAZE: Fire on the marsh at Parkgate starts to approach The Parade

Picture: STEVE EBBRELL
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 8, 2013
Words:279
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