Winnie-the-Pooh forest up in flames

Fans of “Winnie-the-Pooh” know the beloved bear and his friends live in the “Hundred Acre Wood.” But the real-life forest that inspired the children’s story is Ashdown Forest, which is now being engulfed in flames, the BBC reports.

About 14 acres of Ashdown Forest in Sussex County, United Kingdom, had burned by Sunday night. Six fire crews were on the scene battling the worst of the blaze. The emergency personnel has been scaled back to four crews, a fire service spokesman said.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was called on Sunday evening to tackle the blaze which covered 14 acres of the forest, which inspired the Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh.  Gareth Fuller / AP

“It’s unusual to have a fire of this size at night. This seems to have caught hold before people noticed the fire,” the spokesman said. “The undergrowth was very dry in the forest, despite the recent rain, and the fire caught quite quickly.”

Ashdown Forest was once the home to author A.A. Milne. The “Winnie-the-Pooh” creator lived in the area, near the town of Hartfield, in the 1920s, when he came up with “The Hundred Acre Woods.”

The forest was originally used for deer hunting but it is now under national and international protection because of its wildlife. While Winnie-the-Pooh and friends are just imaginary inhabitants, there are many creatures that live in the woods now suffering from the fire.

90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh The 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh was celebrated in the “100 Acre Wood” in Ashdown Forest, in 2016. Matt Crossick

Ground-nesting birds likely saw their eggs and nests destroyed in the blaze, Ashdown Forest Ranger Chris Sutton said. “Reptiles like adders and lizards would not have been able to move fast enough. Large animals like foxes and deer would have been able to move out of the area quite quickly.”

However, “all is not lost,” Sutton said.  “Within four weeks we’ll have grass growing and in six months you probably won’t know too much has gone on here.”

It is not believed that the fire was started deliberately, the BBC reports. In February, the forest suffered two fires which were accidentally started by volunteers during a planned burning.

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