Since hearing the news, I’ve been feeling absolutely devastated at the ever-worsening news of forest fires in Crowthorne and am angry beyond words to hear that youths have been arrested in connection with fires being restarted that had been successfully put out (no one seems to know yet whether the original fires were arson or just due to the dry weather conditions). Strangely enough, I had one of those frustrating dreams on Monday night that I was trying to get from A to B but couldnt as the road was blocked and so I was desperately trying to find a new route…only A to B, in my dream, was the Nine Mile Ride; I woke up feel frustrated and desturbed by the dream as I hadnt managed to find a solution to the problem. I was then staggered to hear about the fires; much of the Nine Mile Ride had, indeed, been closed that morning but I couldnt have heard this on the news as we didnt watch television or listen to the radio at all on Bank Holiday Monday. Bizarre!
My stomach curdles at the thought of all that loss of natural habitat, the woodland that I know so well and so often photograph and paint and also the environment relied upon by dozens of species of wildlife, right at the peak of their nesting season. According to local news sources, the legacy of these fires, which are still going as far as we know (I certainly saw several fire engines heading to and from there today and the road remains closed to traffic), will be felt for up to a decade. The smog at Heathlake yesterday was quite noxious; it was still fairly heavy there this morning and the sheer stench of burning wood becomes quite overwhelming after an hour’s walk there. Friends that live in Crowthorne described layers of dust and ash coming into their homes inspite of keeping the windows shut. I am in awe of the firefighters struggling to get things under control.
Above all, I feel utterly sick at the loss of so much of the natural habitat that is such an intrinsic part of the Berkshire I know and love and I feel increasingly anxious as we wait to find out just what the extent of the damage is.
For BBC coverage of the fires see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-13264201