THE LICKEY Hills fire which destroyed almost 400sq m of the country park was another of the best-read stories of 2022 as thousands flocked to our website for the latest updates.
It began in the heatwave in July and, at its height, 12 fire crews were battling the large blaze.
Because of the tinder-dry conditions, the flames spread fast and firefighters were struggling to bring it under control.
Seven fire engines were initially sent to the scene, including crews from Bromsgrove, Worcester and Redditch, along with West Midlands Fire Service’s from Northfield, Woodgate Valley and Kings Norton.
When it was clear the response was not strong enough to deal with the flames, an additional five fire crews were sent in.
A total of 15 people, including four children, were evacuated from their homes off Eachway Lane while those who could remain there were told to keep their doors and windows shut.
Prior to the warning, people living nearby reported their homes becoming smoke-logged.
Drivers and others were also warned to stay away from the area.
The fire was brought under control around eight hours later and the 15 people evacuated were allowed back into their homes.
Fire crews which helped dampen down the ground included Leominster posted the haunting picture.
The devastation caused
A review of the damage to the Lickey Hills revealed a whole eco-system had been lost in the fire.
Included in the destroyed land was important heathland that a wealth of wildlife relied upon for food and habitat.
Deer, bats, butterflies and even lizards frequented the area while other wildlife would have also ‘passed through’.
A heathland management project had been operating for at least 30 years and it will take years for the land to recover.
The community’s response
An appeal was launched for volunteers to come forward to help restore the Lickey Hills Country Park to its former glory following the devastating fire.
In September, two months after the blaze, more than 40 volunteers aged between 14 and 80 gathered at the hills to help with restoring the land.
The group picked up pieces of glass on Rednal Hill to prevent future fires and pulled up bracken to encourage the bilberry to grow again on the site.
One volunteer, Oliver Cook recently celebrated his 80th birthday and fell in love with the Lickey Hills when he was a teenager.