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The scorched earth of Surrey: Devastating image reveals the damage left by wildfire

Scorched and charred, this is the devastation left by a ravaging wildfire that stopped play at a prestigious golf course.

Around 140 acres of Chobham Common, Surrey, went up in flames after the fire broke out on Friday, forcing 100 residents to flee their homes. 

The fire raced towards the fringes of Wentworth Golf Course, forcing the cancellation of the Rose Ladies Series event.

Despite largely bringing the fire under control, authorities fear another week of blistering heat could allow it to take hold again.

Firefighters yesterday continued to tackle the Surrey wildfire that has destroyed 150 acres of countryside around Britain’s ‘Beverly Hills’.

Owners of sixty gated properties were evacuated from their homes on Friday after the huge wildfire swept across the area.

Despite the £2million properties not being under immediate threat, owners were asked to stay away due to plumes of smoke in the air.

It is understood the owners have been staying with family and friends, though some were spotted popping back to their properties to collect essentials this weekend.

They described the huge wildfire, which has destroyed 150 acres of countryside, as ‘quite something’ and said Heather Drive is a ‘ghost town’. 

Earlier this morning, Surrey Fire and Rescue service said crews made ‘significant progress’ overnight with the ‘cooling air temperatures’ and are now focusing on ‘damping down and tackling hot spots’.

Surrey County Council said that a ‘large number of resources remain on the scene’, nearly 48 hours after the fire started.

It said: ‘At this time the fire service are focusing on damping down and tackling hot spots across the common although with the weather forecasted to be hot and dry through the day this is very much still an active incident.

Chobham Common should be avoided by members of the public for their own safety.’ 

At the height of the wildfire, it required more than 40 vehicles including fire engines, specialist units and 4x4s.

The flames also spread to Wentworth golf course, halting play in the Rose Ladies Series Grand Final on Friday.  

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service called in reinforcements from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service yesterday after declaring the blaze, which started on Chobham Common on Friday, a ‘major incident’. 

On Friday, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service sent 40 fire engines including two water carriers to put out the huge blaze, which could be seen 20 miles away in west London and from the Shard in the city centre. 

The embattled fire service declared the fire a ‘major incident’ while several road closures remain in place – including Windsor Road from Titlarks Hill to Chertsey Road (B386) and part of Chertsey Road. 

Runnymede Council has told the public to keep clear of Chobham Common and surrounding areas, while Wentworth Golf Club cancelled its Rose Ladies Series Grand Final on Friday. 

In a joint statement released on Saturday evening, Surrey Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘Following discussions between partners a number of properties have had to be evacuated due to safety reasons and at this time it is not safe for those residents to return to their homes.

‘A number of local roads remain closed and we’re also asking people to avoid the area.’

The forces believe it is still too early to say what caused the fire but added that ‘the extreme temperatures across the county have no doubt had an impact’.

They also asked people to avoid lighting bonfires or using disposable barbecues to stop any similar incidents.

On Friday, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said an estimated 120 people were evacuated from their homes in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. 

The fire service said at the time: ‘It is still a significant fire and it is still likely to be going on for some time. [It is] not helped by the heat and the wind direction keeps moving which is causing some trouble.

‘There are around 60 properties that have been evacuated, about 120 people, they are all in Windsor and Maidenhead, Berkshire.’

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said on Saturday: ‘Crews remain on scene at the fire on Chobham Common which spread to around 150 acres at its peak. 

‘Overnight the cooling temperatures and hard work of crews contained the spread but we’re expecting firefighters to be on scene through the day. Please avoid the area for your own safety. 

They added: ‘A number of roads in the area remain closed and some properties were evacuated. Residents that were evacuated should not return to their homes.’ 

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service tweeted: ‘The Fire Severity is currently at level 4. Meaning the risk of wildfires & rapid spread of fire can occur. Please take extra care if your (sic) out in the forestry/park areas. Please do not use disposable BBQs and ensure smoking materials are fully extinguished.’ 

The fire service told MailOnline the cause of the blaze is being investigated, but added that the weather and mini-heatwave which has seen temperatures soar to nearly 100F played a role. 

Rich residents were spotted popping back to their million pound properties to collect essentials before heading to stay with friends and family after being told the fire was ‘still smouldering’.

Alistair Lines, a 64-year-old nearby resident, told MailOnline: ‘Fires in Chobham Common have been quite regular over the years, but I have never seen it so close to the houses. It is only about 100m from the fire to someone’s expensive garden, normally the fires are right over the other side nearing the M3.

‘I was brought up on this road when it was just a three bedroom home but now this road is like millionaires row. I would have been worried last night if I lived in one of these massive houses. 

‘The fire is bigger than I’ve ever seen, it’s quite something. 

‘I think they’ve got the fire under control, when I drove round there they were all sitting down having a cup of tea. It is like a ghost town around here with everyone being evacuated.’

On the main road leading up to the common, cars were being turned away by a response officer who told motorists that the fire was just ‘300 yards away.’

A Windsor and Maidenhead council worker wearing high vis said: ‘I’m trying to stop people driving through this road closure, as the vast majority of people around here are ignoring it.

‘The fire is literally 300 yards that way. The fire is still smouldering, it is still a live incident. Residents on Heather Drive have been asked to leave their properties,’ the response officer added.

Millionaires watched from their windows last night as the wildfire burned acres of countryside.

Jonathan, a 54-year-old company director, told MailOnline: ‘We live on the road that’s been asked to evacuate. I think it will smoulder for quite a few days because it is such a big fire. 

‘We aren’t sure how it started, it’s very dry but it could have been anything.

‘We’ve lived here for 15 years and obviously you don’t want million of pounds worth of houses to go up in flames. The fire backs onto our property so we could see it from our windows, it was quite a sight.’

A homeowner rushing back to his home in Onslow Lodge to grab extra clothes before heading to stay at a friends for a second night told of his experience.

The 50-year-old accountant, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘We were asked to leave yesterday but we were allowed to pop back for five minutes to grab some more stuff we are still under evacuation at the moment.

‘The common is just the other side of the railway, we are worried but I am hoping that they have it all under control, there is no property that has been destroyed yet.

‘I think a lot of area has been affected and because the temperature is so hot the risk is that there is still undergrowth smouldering away and then it could quite easily catch again.

‘The police were brilliant, just knocked in our door yesterday afternoon and asked us to gather our stuff and leave. This area is worth a fortune, what I’m hoping is that there is a lot of expensive houses between me and the fire.

‘Wentworth golf club is a two-minute walk away, golfers had to stop play yesterday during a ladies cup because there were flames ravaging in the background. It was pretty spectacular really.’  

Eyewitnesses saw the fire from more than 20 miles away in west London and from tall buildings in central London.

Last night Surrey Police said: ‘The fire on Chobham Common is an ongoing incident with significant numbers of emergency services on the scene who are likely to remain there for some time. Please continue to avoid the area.  

‘Road closures are currently in place – as the below image shows – these are eastbound on the Chertsey Road (B386) at the junction with Brick Hill up to the roundabout with Windsor Road and Chobham Road, and then northbound on the Chobham Road from the roundabout to the junction with Onslow Road.

‘We are aware of reports of social media posts suggesting that residents can return to HEATHER DRIVE – this is not the case. Please DO NOT attempt to return home at this time.

‘We thank the public for their continued support of all multi-agency colleagues working on the ground.’

Play at the Rose Ladies Series Grand Final had to be halted and the final has been cancelled after a ‘wall of flames’ spread to Wentworth golf course.  

At around 11.30pm last night, The Rose Ladies Series wrote on Twitter: ‘With a heavy heart, the Major Incident Command Centre have closed Wentworth tomorrow due to the severity of the ongoing fire risk.

‘The Grand Final restart is cancelled until further notice. Most importantly, players, caddies & staff must be safe.’   

Griff Ryan, 23, who lives in Sunningdale near to the blaze, said the fire began with a ‘strange light’ at around 1pm before smoke and then later a ‘wall of flames’. 

‘Smoke got gradually worse and ash began falling into our garden,’ he said.

‘Now standing on Chobham road. At around 5pm fire still wasn’t visible from the road. 

‘Over about half an hour it’s become visible and now can see a wall of flames down towards the railway line.

‘Other residents I’ve spoken to have said it’s the worst they’ve seen in 30 years.’ 

Surrey Heath MP and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said he was ‘horrified’ by the damage caused by the fire. 

The fire service said on Friday: ‘We received a call this afternoon around 12.25pm to a report of a fire on Chobham Common.   

‘Ten fire engines have been sent in total, alongside multiple specialist vehicles, with the first arriving at the scene around 12.35pm. 

‘Approximately 41 hectares of grass and undergrowth are alight. Crews remain at the scene tackling the fire.’

Surrey Police added: ‘Surrey Fire and Rescue are working hard to get the fire under control, and we are assisting with evacuations and road closures. 

‘If you are on the common you need to evacuate immediately, following instructions from the police and fire officers on the ground.

‘If you decided to walk off the common, but have left a vehicle in one of the car parks, please message us immediately so we can account for you. 

‘The fire is travelling fast due to the wind, and there is also a risk of reduced visibility due to smoke.

‘If you are affected by the smoke from the fire please keep windows and doors shut to avoid health problems.’

Pro golfer Felicity Johnson told Sky News Sports News: ‘I was just on ninth green, the group ahead had teed up and then we could see a lot of smoke.

‘We could see it moving in the distance and it seemed to get closer pretty quickly. We waited five to ten minutes and it was the noise that was pretty scary.

‘We all know how fast fire can travel and then we saw ash landing on our clothes.’ 

According to Sky Sports News, no one has been injured on the golf club but everyone was asked to leave the West Course.

Smoke from the fire was visible in London and had earlier been mistakenly thought to be coming from Heathrow airport by some on social media. 

MP for Surrey Heath Michael Gove said: ‘I’m horrified by the damage this wildfire has done to Chobham Common – and hope people will heed this evacuation warning – thanks to Surrey Fire and Rescue service for their bravery in tackling this terrible tragedy.’ 

Ash assumed to be from the fire has been reported to have fallen on homes as far as Windsor. 

Councillor for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said: ‘Ash is now falling in my garden in Windsor. 

‘I can only assume from Chobham. It must be a huge fire.’

The railway at Longcross in Surrey was blocked and trains could pass because the fire encroached on the line. 

The Surrey Heath Liberal Democrats said: ‘Trains between Reading and Waterloo will run between Reading and Ascot or Waterloo and VirginiaWater, with replacement transport between Ascot and Virginia Water. 

‘Disruption expected until 8pm.’

Chobham Road was closed between Titlarks Hill Road and the roundabout junction with Windsor Road and Chertsey Road.

Rose Ladies Series is a one-off professional women’s tournament, consisting of seven single day competitions, culminating in a three-day grand final.  

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