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Fire at Wildwood Trust animal park between Herne Bay and Canterbury

A huge fire at an animal park has left an enclosure badly damaged and the fate of its occupant is not yet known.

The blaze took hold at The Wildwood Trust, a popular woodland discovery park between Herne Bay and Canterbury.

The fire at Wildwood
The fire at Wildwood

Firefighters in four fire engines were called and crews wearing breathing apparatus worked to extinguish the flames.

All visitors were evacuated and nobody is thought to have been injured.

The Wildwood Trust says all animals are safe except for one- a red squirrel - which is currently unaccounted for.

Its enclosure was badly damaged in the fire and it is not yet known if it managed to escape.

A spokesman for the park said: "[The fire] started in an off-show area of the park and was quickly discovered and the fire brigade were called.

Photos of the fire taken by Mya-Jo Howlett
Photos of the fire taken by Mya-Jo Howlett

"All visitors were evacuated and the team worked to bring the situation under control and move animals as needed. .

"So far we are only aware of one animal - a red squirrel- that has been affected by the fire, and all other animals near the fire have been removed to other locations in the park and are safe."

Four fire engines battled the blaze from 3.30pm to just past 8pm.

A Kent Fire and Rescue Spokesman said that "the cause of the fire is not yet known".

Nearby residents reported hearing "sirens everywhere" this afternoon.

Stock picture of a red squirrel at Wildwood. Picture: Wildwood Trust
Stock picture of a red squirrel at Wildwood. Picture: Wildwood Trust

Earlier this afternoon, a wartime bomb was discovered at Port Lympne wildlife park in Hythe.

Grandmother Sue Pegge had been on a safari trip at Port Lympne with her family when the unexploded device was found and decided to then venture to Wildwood instead.

She told KentOnline: "We popped to Wildwood in Herne Bay as we felt safer without the threat of a bomb, and this zoo is on fire!

"We are not having much luck today, but it is an extremely large fire."

Founded in 1999 and gaining charity status in 2002, Wildwood Trust is one of the UK's leading conservation charities.

Photos of the fire taken by Mya-Jo Howlett
Photos of the fire taken by Mya-Jo Howlett

It runs two wildlife parks - its site near Herne Bay , and a sister park at Escot in Devon - and is "dedicated to protecting, conserving and rewilding Britain’s wildlife".

The Trust has taken part in a number of ground-breaking conservation programmes, including using wild horses to help restore a Kent nature reserve , and returning the hazel dormouse and red squirrel to areas where they were extinct.

Its is home to more than 50 species of native British animals including deer, wild boar, wolves and brown bears.

At its Herne Bay site, Wildwood Trust recently rehomed two bear cubs that were found abandoned by their mum on a snow drift in the Albanian mountains .

It has also helped head up the high-profile Wilder Blean project, which has seen bison released into nearby woodland .

Wildwood says the cause of today's blaze is being investigated.

More to follow.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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