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Croyde’s Baggy Point On Fire… Literally

Headland at the heart of North Devon’s World Surfing Reserve devastated by wildfire.

North Devon’s Baggy Point has been devastated by wildfire. Over 20 acres of land have been damaged after a fire broke out on Monday 29 August, destroying the precious habitats of protected and rare species.

The fire was started by a disposable bbq, and it took six fire engines and personnel from 12 fire stations to gain control. The fire burned for two days and at one point had a 200-metre wide fire front burning through the gorse that was driven by high winds.

Fire rages on Baggy Point. Photo North Devon National Trust

Baggy Point lies on the northern end of Croyde, one of the UK’s best beachbreaks. It is an important stretch of the 30 kilometres of coastline that was designated as the 12th World Surfing Reserve earlier in the year.

The focus of the WSR was to focus on looking after the quality of the waves themselves and preserve the ecosystems that produce them. “Surf spots need to be celebrated, recognised, and protected in the same way we protect beautiful national parks like Exmoor,” said Adam Hall, the co-founder of the Devon Surfing Reserve.

On the days of the fire though, quality waves weren’t a factor. A non-existent swell had been scrubbed flat by offshore easterly winds. However, it was the last day of England’s joint hottest summer since 1884, according to the Met Office. That means that four of the five warmest summers on record for England have occurred since 2003, as the effects of human-induced climate change are felt. Compounding the constant heat was a lack of rain. This was the 6th driest summer on record, with just 103 mm of rain, since records began in 1836.

The damage done. Photo by North Devon National Trust

Hence how a misused disposable bbq can spark a fire that damaged so much precious coastal heath, wildlife, and biodiversity in such a short time. The North Devon National Trust which looks after Baggy Point, the surrounding area, and these vital habitats for wildlife, is setting about restoring the area, which will take years. To help out that process you can donate on their website.