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Blazing Britain hit by infernos.

Byline: By Peter Williamson

Fire chiefs todayhoped tinderbox Britain would cool down.

Blazes raged across bone dry parts of the countryside yesterday whipped up by high winds.

But early today many fire brigades reported blazes threatening homes and wildlife had died down or been put out.

South Wales Fire Service was scaling back its response in the Gwent area. At one point 18 appliances had been called to the region.

The fires were being monitored overnight and more appliances were expected to be sent to blazes today.

Large fires in Dorset and Cornwall had now been extinguished.

Earlier firefighters in Ayrshire battled a rapidly-spreading blaze covering 12 square miles near Darvel. The fire, which began on Thursday, raged in 12 parts.

But early today the wind had changed direction and was blowing the fire away from homes and properties in danger. The blaze was also breaking up into smaller independent blazes, police reported.

Firefighters in South Wales battled a blaze which led to the evacuation of dozens of residents in Gwent, including those at a children's home.

A brigade spokesman said police and fire officers had launched a joint investigation into the blaze, which was believed to have been started deliberately.

Firefighters remained at the scene along with police and ambulance crews who were working with local authority officers and Forestry Commission staff.

Gwent police were making house-to-house inquiries across the affected area where dozens of residents were evacuated from their homes last night.

"We have a large number of CID officers across the area who are actively pursuing leads," said Inspector Mark Wheatstone of Gwent Police.

"They could easily have put lives at risk by starting such a fire and we intend to catch those responsible."

In Cornwall, firefighters tackled a large gorse fire covering about 1,000 square metres at Fiddlers Green, near Newquay.

Meanwhile, visitors to the Lake District were warned to take care after a series of undergrowth fires. A helicopter was called in to control one at Barrow Fell, above Keswick, by water-bombing it.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 19, 2003
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