Brian May has thanked firefighters for tackling a wildfire that threatened to destroy his home in Surrey over the weekend.
The fire broke out on Friday and has destroyed approximately 30 hectares of heath land at Chobham Common. At the peak of the blaze on Saturday, more than 40 specialist units including fire trucks, attended the scene.
Posting a picture on his website, May says: “I never imagined it could happen here in leafy, and normally damp, Surrey, England. We supported the fight against the immense fires in Australia, and watched sadly as fires ravaged California, but to see this happen in my own home county has been shocking and traumatic.
“These pictures show Anne Brummer and I this afternoon, surveying the forest fire which is still smouldering less than a mile from my own house and studio, and the fond relics of my entire life.
"We were able to begin to thank the amazing firefighters who risked their lives to contain this huge and treacherous wild furnace on the heath land of Sunningdale Golf Course – which actually adjoins my property.
“On Saturday, I was rescuing as many precious things from my house as was practicable, under threat of the whole thing going up in flames, but praying that the horror would not happen. Today my prayers were answered – the fire is under control, but the danger is not over. While this dry heatwave lasts there is still a massive risk of a flare-up leading to disaster.”
May adds: “Perhaps even more shocking was learning today that this wonderful force, which is alert 24 hours a day to protect us all, has become tragically under supported in recent years.
“Just as the government cuts sent the NHS into battle hideously crippled by lack of funding, the same lack of vision has rendered this country vulnerable to fires – with a fire fighting service criminally cut back in manpower and resources.
“Something has gone terribly wrong with our leaders’ decision-making process. As long as we prioritise short-term economic gains over the lives of our people and the welfare of those who protects us, we will be a nation continually in danger. It becomes more and more clear that a radical rethink is needed.”
The Queen guitarist concludes: “Thank you, firefighters of Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, and the maintenance team of Sunningdale Golf, for saving all our skins.”
The cause of the wildfire is not yet known, but scorching temperatures have been recorded in southern England over the last few days.