THE hunt has been launched for arsonists who have struck four times at a Hampshire beauty spot.

Four suspected arson attacks have ravaged the New Forest heathland in less than a month.

Between April 18 and May 6, fires were started at, or close to, Dibden Inclosure.

The first incident saw staff from the Forestry Commission race to the scene at the inclosure, before managing to dampen down the fire.

Further fires were started on April 20 and April 22, nearby the scene.

A fourth blaze consumed an acre of heartland below Dibden Inclosure at around 6pm on May 6.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue were able to extinguish the fire before it spread and caused any further damage.

At two of these incidents, three boys were seen fleeing the scene going towards the Applemore area, but could not be found.

The Forestry Commission, which manages land at the New Forest, said it would continue to work with local police to try and identify the people responsible for the incidents.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Every year, fire destroys thousands of hectares of countryside across England. They are a threat to people, wildlife and trees.

“If anyone has any information that could help identify the offenders please call the Police on 101. With more dry weather in the forecast, we’d like to remind everyone to take care and be fire-aware.”

Wildfires (uncontrolled, unwanted or unplanned fire) can cause severe damage to wildlife habitats, which in some cases can take decades to restore, not to mention impacts on soil, water quality and carbon storage.

Fires such as these can be devastating to all of the things that make the New Forest so special – and they can be especially damaging to the wildlife that thrives here.

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed that no arrests had been made. Anyone with information can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.