FIREFIGHTERS have criticised the people responsible for a "mindless act" after the latest in a series of fires in the New Forest.

A crew from Lyndhurst fire station was called out to extinguish a blaze caused by a campfire near the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive between Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst.

Later the crew tweeted: "We care about our forest and our wildlife! We don’t want it to be destroyed by mindless acts like this."

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said the crew arrived to discover a four metre square campfire was alight.

The incident occurred yesterday evening.

At least seven forest fires have broken out in the district in the past few weeks. The most serious occurred last month, when flames about 30ft high destroyed an acre of gorse near Pitmore Lane, Sway.

Earlier this month Forestry England, formerly the Forestry Commission, warned that the fire risk in the Forest was high following the recent run of hot sunshine.

A spokesperson said: "During the sustained recent good weather, the Forest has become incredibly dry.

"Fire risks are very high and unfortunately there have recently been several serious fires.

"For this reason fires of any kind, including BBQs or disposal of cigarettes, are currently not allowed anywhere on the Forest."

A similar warning was issued by the New Forest National Park Authority.

The chairman, Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, said: "'The Forest is on an amber fire warning due to the recent dry weather so no barbecues are allowed.

"We ask that people respect the vulnerable areas that are closed to protect ground nesting birds, stick to the designated routes when cycling, keep their distance from New Forest animals and follow the countryside code."