Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Surrey firefighters tackle blaze at Britain’s largest cemetery

A blaze raging at Britain’s largest cemetery has sparked a wildfire warning as drought grips the south east.

More than 40 firefighters are tackling the flames across a 17 acre area of Brookwood Cemetery* near Woking.

Six fire engines, a water tanker and six specialist off-road vehicles are currently battling the fire which started just after 2pm today <TUESDAY 27 MARCH>.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Tinder box dry conditions across the south east have sparked a safety warning from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service as the region is gripped by the worst drought in 30 years.

Fire service Area Manager Alan Clark said: “The lack of rain and tinder box dry conditions provide the perfect recipe for wildfires.

“Once they start they can spread quickly, making wildfires notoriously difficult to control. These fires cause devastation to the countryside, wildlife and property. They pose a risk to life, both to the public and the firefighters tackling these blazes.”

In Surrey the county council performs the role of the fire authority, and David Hodge, the council’s Leader, said: “Events like the Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee will provide the perfect opportunity for lighting up a barbecue this summer, but I would urge people to take care. In recent years, hundreds of acres of Surrey countryside have been burnt in wildfires.

“These blazes can start for all sorts of reasons. A discarded match, a misplaced cigarette, or even a bonfire are all it takes to spark a wildfire. A moment of carelessness could result in devastation to the countryside and lives being put at risk. Please take a moment to think about where you put that match or cigarette.”

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has invested in off-road firefighting equipment and developed new wildfire fighting tactics to keep the county safe.

ITN’s aerial footage of the blaze


Media requiring more information should contact Jacob Leverett in Surrey Fire and Rescue’s media relations team on 0208 541 9419 or

Notes to editors

*Brookwood Cemetery has been the site of several high profile burials including Dodi Al Fayed and 12 recipients of the Victoria Cross.

Each year there are around 79,000 wild fires in the UK – an average of 216 per day.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is working with organisations from across the South East to raise awareness of the risk of wildfires in a bid to prevent them. These organisations include other fire and rescue services, the Ministry of Defence, the Forestry Commission, Natural England, water companies and land owners.


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