No cause found for major fire Deurnese Peel

No cause was found for the major fire that raged for days in the Deurnese Peel in April. This is stated in the investigation carried out by the fire brigade and the Institute for Physical Safety on behalf of the Brabant-Zuidoost Safety Region on Wednesday.

A piece of glass was found in the area where the fire originated, but the researchers rule out that this ignited the fire. Because of the vegetation that was present on the spot, the possibility that sunlight could shine on the glass was limited. “This is independent of whether sunlight in combination with the piece of glass could have ignited this natural fire at all, especially since the piece of glass was not found in the correct position in relation to the sun,” write the researchers.

The glass may have been displaced by the fire or the fire fighting, but they do not believe that this can be determined. No other possible causes have been found in the area, making it impossible to determine the cause of the fire.

Abnormal fire spread

The fire developed very differently from normal natural fires. According to the researchers, the way in which the Deunese Peel was constructed is an important cause of this. “The unique layout of the area, with plains interrupted by watercourses and interconnected by pieces of land several metres wide, contributed to the fires different fire spread from that of other natural fires with uninterrupted plains. This, together with the different vegetation, has greatly contributed to the different fire behaviour compared to natural fires in other types of areas”, states the report.

Parts of the area were difficult to access, which made it difficult for the fire brigade to get an overview. Also, the area had been dry for a long time, the wind was strong and the presence of large quantities of dry, dead eagle ferns provided extra fuel for the fire.

Multiple investigations

A total of three investigations into the fire are being carried out. The second study is a policy evaluation, the third is a study into the relationship between fire safety and nature management. The results of the last two are expected in November.

The fire in the Deurnese Peel destroyed about 800 of the total 1000 hectares of nature reserve. Anyone living too close to the conflagration had to leave the house temporarily. In the following weeks, the fire continued to spread underground and flared up here and there on a regular basis.