A huge blaze in Wareham Forest in Dorset has been declared a major incident by the emergency services.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) is expecting crews will continue to tackle the blaze on Sugar Hill off Bere Road for at least 24 hours.

It has engulfed around 100 hectares of heath and woodland.

The fire service said more than 150 firefighters have been involved in responding to the incident after an initial call on Monday afternoon.

Around 50 firefighters remain at the scene this morning where they continue to fight four different sectors of the fire.

Increasing wind speeds mean they are having to deal with "flare-ups" but a spokesman for Dorset and wiltshire Firea nd Rescue said crews are making "good progress."

Forestry Journal: Picture: DWFRS.Picture: DWFRS.

Motorists faced long diversions while the A35 was closed near Bloxworth, however, it reopened shortly before 12pm on Tuesday.

Providing an update late on Monday, a DWFRS spokesperson said: "The Wareham forest fire has now been declared as a major incident.

"This is a protected incident and we expect it to carry on for the next 24 hours. Please continue to avoid the area and keep windows closed due to the smoke.

"The A35 is likely to remain closed for a numbers of hours and into tomorrow so please check your route before travelling to work tomorrow (Tuesday)."

Forestry Journal: Picture: DWFRS.Picture: DWFRS.

Almost 30 response vehicles have been at the scene in rural Dorset, including 28 fire engines.

Plumes of smoke could be seen from some distance away, including in parts of  Poole, while the smell from the burning also drifted across the region.

Residents concerned about the smoke were urged to keep windows and doors closed.

Police assisted the fire service with local road closures, while the NPAS helicopter allowed firefighters to get an aerial view of the incident and assist their strategy for dealing with the blaze.

This story first appeared in the Daily Echo.

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