§ Mr. Leckie
asked the right hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, whether an inquiry has been held as to the cause of the recent disastrous fire on Cannock Chase in which many acres of woodland were destroyed; if so, with what result; whether the fire-watchers were at their posts at the time of the outbreak; and what steps are to be taken to prevent or subdue at its early stages a similar outbreak in future?
§ Sir G. Courthope
An inquiry was held with regard to two fires on the 20th March last which started on open common land adjoining Forestry Commission plantations at Cannock Chase. The inquiry failed to reveal the precise cause but no doubt the fires were started by members of the public dropping lighted matches or tobacco. Twelve men were on fire patrol and the fire look-out tower was manned at the time of the outbreaks. The inquiry revealed no defects in the Commission's Standing Fire Plan, but arrangements have now been made with the owner of the common to permit the Commission to cut herbage on land adjoining the plantations and the number of fire warning notices has been increased.