THESE are the dramatic images as an "intense" forest fire ripped through a nature reserve in Hythe.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue raced to Forest Front at around 6.50pm last night (July 25) and police have confirmed they are treating the incident as arson.

The photographs were captured by Daily Echo Camera Club member Mel Port who rushed to the scene from his home after seeing the flames erupt nearby.

Crews from Hardley, Beaulieu and Totton Fire Stations were called to fire, which was extinguished by 8pm.

Tackling the incident in the area of trees and scrubland, the fire grew to approximately 115m by 75m in size.

It was stopped using one compressed air foam system jet, as well as three main jets, two sets of breathing apparatus and four hose reel jets.

Lymington shopkeeper Mel, 54, said: "I was sat in my garden. After phoning the fire brigade I grabbed the camera and walked over to the fire. A Land Rover arrived through the nature reserve and tackled it from one side.

"A fire engine entered Forest Front and tackled it from the other side. Everything is so dry it is inevitable that there is going to be fires."

He added: It was quite fierce and the heat was immense. I am a keen amateur photographer. As it was on my doorstep I thought I would try and get some shots."

This is the latest in a number of arson incidents which are sweeping the county as the heatwave continues.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: "We can confirm that this fire is being treated as arson at this stage. Investigations are ongoing."

Anyone with information is being urged to contact police, quoting crime reference number 44180282020.