Fire ravages landmark Otter Estuary trees
PUBLISHED: 16:23 15 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:06 16 July 2019
Fire damage to landmark trees near the Otter Estuary is 'just the tip of the iceberg' in abuse to a popular beauty spot, said a tenant farmer.
The pine trees, which have become a well known part of Budleigh Salterton's image, were charred following a fire which engulfed 20sqm of woodland on Friday (July 12).
The fire service said no one was hurt and the cause was accidental.
Police have been informed and CCTV was installed over the weekend in an attempt to prevent another incident.
Jemma Pyne, who, along with husband Nick is a tenant farmer at South Farm where the trees are planted, said a camp fire had been lit in a den built at the foot of the trees.
She said there were stolen road signs pinned to trees and broken bottles.
Mrs Pyne has called on people to respect the countryside.
She said: "The fire aside, the den that was built was a real mess - the fire itself was the tip of the iceberg.
"Building a fire is fine, but building it in a forest in this type of weather is not very clever.
"Special care needs to be taken in this very hot dry spell as fire can spread very easily and cause considerable damage - it wasn't that long ago Woodbury Common was on fire.
"It's such a shame that some kids aren't taught to respect the countryside and to not ruin it for everybody, and to appreciate that they're lucky to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty."
The couple were told late on Friday night by landowner Clinton Devon Estates of the fire and by the time Nick arrived at the scene, firefighters had extinguished the blaze.
Now the family has been are left counting the cost - not only to the life of the trees, but to their own business - as fire engines had to cut across maize fields to get to the trees.
An irrigation pipe was also damaged which Mrs Pyne said will affect the farms income at a time when they are busy harvesting.
Clinton Devon Estates has been approached for comment.