Woman with black dog asked to come forward as Parkgate wildfire investigation gathers pace

A week on from the Parkgate wildfire and detectives are still seeking help to investigate the causes of the blaze which covered 500 square metres of marshland.

Cheshire Police are appealing to members of the public for information which could help them ascertain the cause and nature of the fire, which they are treating as an act of arson. Three teenage boys, one aged 14 and two aged 13 were arrested on suspicion of arson on Monday, though were released on conditional bail by Tuesday.

The police are keen to hear from a woman who was walking her black dog in the area and spoke to a group of teenagers shortly before the fire took place at 6.20pm last Saturday. They also want to speak to a man and woman who were in Parkgate at the time and are believed to have spoken to a group of teenagers and taken photographs.

READ MORE:‘No chance’ of wildlife returning after Parkgate wildfire

They also still asking the public and people who may have been in that locality to check their CCTV footage and any other footage taken around the time which may help further their investigation. They particularly ask that people living in the areas of Manorial Road, Manorial Road South, Moorside Lane and Parkgate Road check any footage they may have from the night.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Green, of Ellesmere Port local policing unit, said: “The investigation is still ongoing and we’re continuing to appeal for information and CCTV footage.

“I am particularly keen to speak to three members of the public who were in the area at the time and encourage them to come forward as they may have information which could help with our investigation.

“I know a lot of people took videos and photographs of the fire and I would ask people who did to submit it through to us as it could also assist with our enquiries.”

If you have information, CCTV or dash-cam footage, contact Cheshire Police online or call 101 quoting IML 1226437.

Six fire crews from both Cheshire and Merseyside were called to the scene to quell the fire and almost immediately police said they suspected that the fire was started deliberately. They remained until the early hours of Sunday morning, as did a police cordon.

Fire at Parkgate, Wirral
Fire at Parkgate, Wirral

The area is of special scientific interest in part due to its role as a home to many animals, including local species and migratory species such as the Marsh harrier which use the reed-bed as a breeding ground. The true extent of the destruction by the blaze was determined by the authorities and the RSPB, who were able to determine its potential impact on wildlife.

The RSPB said on Tuesday: “About 10 hectares of marsh was burnt in the fire, including all the reed-bed vegetation and some areas of saltmarsh vegetation.

“While we’re hopeful the root systems have survived, and that the reeds will grow back over the coming years, there is no chance of wildlife successfully nesting in those areas in the coming months. It will be a year or two at the earliest before this area can once again support breeding birds including bearded tits, Cetti’s warblers and marsh harriers.”

Dan Trotman, the visitor experience manager for the local RSPB, said that the wildfire had also frustrated efforts some five years in the making to encourage migratory species the breeding of some migratory species.

He told the ECHO: It’s hugely frustrating. When I started in 2010, Marsh harriers weren’t a bird you’d find on the Dee Estuary. You’d get the occasional bird passing through the area but over the last decade the Marsh harrier population nationwide has done really well.

“You predominantly find them in the Southeast, but from around 2013 they started to be seen quite regularly on the Dee Estuary as summer visitors. Then 2017 is when they first nested on estuary.

“I’ve seen that change over the decade. It’s a bird that means a lot to me, so it really hurt, actually, to have lost them. We might not have just lost them for this year either, in a year’s time now it still might not be suitable for Marsh harriers, and possibly even the year after that.”

If you have information, CCTV or dash cam footage related to the incident, please contact Cheshire Constabulary online or contact 101 quoting IML 1226437. Information can also be provided anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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