A RAGING inferno has ripped through a beauty spot near St Austell – and continued to smoulder more than 72 hours on.
A blaze roughly the size of two football pitches engulfed gorse along cliffs at Black Head, Trenarren, near St Austell, on Saturday evening.
David Bruce, watch keeper with the Charlestown National Coastwatch Institution(NCI), raised the alarm with the coastguard, after spotting the flames at about 5pm on Saturday.
More than 20 firefighters from St Austell, Mevagissey and Fowey were scrambled to the scene during the weekend and Monday but because of hazardous location were forced to let the high gorse, burn out naturally.
Crews continue to monitor the burning landscape round the clock and on Tuesday morning crews had returned again to check on smouldering "inaccessible hotspots'. Matt Grubb, the St Austell fire crew manager, said: "On Saturday we received calls from local residents about the fire at Black Head.
"The depth of the fire and the proximity to the cliff caused a problem for us."
Mr Grubb said approximately one hectare – or 2.471 acres – on the westerly side of the popular area had caught alight.
No-one was hurt and there was no danger of the fire spreading, he added.
"We think it could have been caused by a barbecue and urge people to consider their surroundings especially in this dry period.
"The dry, hot weather has exacerbated the fire. When a similar thing happened at the cliffs in Charlestown it took about three to four weeks before the fire was totally out.
"We are praying for rain."
Chris Eddy, station manager for Charlestown NCI, said: "Our watch keeper on duty on Saturday spotted a gorse fire at Black Head just after 5pm and it was obviously quite a significant fire.
"He got hold of the coastguard who called out the fire service. The fire service and the coastguard attended the scene.
"We know it's pretty wild out there and he noted that the fire continued by the time he left his watch at 8pm."
Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) said the blaze would devastate the habitat of some late nesting birds, reptiles, particularly adders, and mammals.
Callum Deveney, head of Nature Conservation at CWT, said "At this time of the year a wildfire which burns for over 24 hours is bad news for wildlife."