News

Bank holiday plea to respect countryside after string of outdoor blazes

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has re-launched its ‘Be Moor Aware’ campaign alongside partners from the National Trust and Yorkshire Water.

Photograph of staff and partners launching the 2021 Be Moor Aware campaign.

The campaign calls on the public to be vigilant especially as lockdown restrictions ease and the rule of six returns to England, allowing people to gather outdoors in larger numbers over the Easter Bank Holiday.

The Met Office has predicted a dry weekend with temperatures of around 13C.

Fire Service Area Manager Scott Donegan said: “We know people will be eager to share time with family members they have not seen in so long and getting outdoors is a great way to support our physical and mental health. We would just like to remind people that if they are planning to socialise in the great outdoors that they respect Public Space Protection Orders which are in place to protect our precious landscapes and behave responsibly so not to cause fires.

“We have seen a number of fires in the countryside in recent weeks and at this time of year we do tend to see an increase in these types of fires as the weather picks up. We are re-launching our Be Moor Aware campaign to remind people to be vigilant. Wildfires can spread very quickly, threatening the safety of people, animals and property. They take a lot of the Fire Service’s time and resources to extinguish meaning that our firefighters could be tied up dealing with a moorland fire, when there is another serious house fire or road traffic collision elsewhere where people’s lives are in danger.  Please do think of the consequences of your actions and be responsible.”

Gaynor Craigie, Head of Land and Property at Yorkshire Water, said: “As lockdown restrictions are eased we’re expecting more people to take advantage of meeting others in an outdoor setting. It is important those visiting Yorkshire’s beautiful open spaces are responsible and ensure the land is left how they found it for others to enjoy.

“One particular danger as the weather gets warmer is wildfire. Often these are caused by visitors lighting fires or barbecues and we’ve already had fires on our land near Ogden reservoir, which could have been far more serious. Wildfires pose a risk to live, vitally important habitats and significantly impact local wildlife so it is important visitors to the countryside do everything they can to prevent fires.

“We’re backing West Yorkshire Fire Service’s ‘Be Moor Aware’ campaign and, in partnership with National Trust, have employed three new countryside rangers who will be operating across our sites to increase our presence across our land in Yorkshire and support with managing visitor wellbeing and maintenance.”

Craig Best, Countryside Manager for the National Trust’s Marsden Moor, said, “Moorland fires cause severe damage to our precious uplands. Not only do they destroy wildlife and their habitats, they also damage peat soils which have a big effect on carbon emissions. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back to enjoy the moors after lockdown restrictions are lifted, but ask that people leave the BBQ at home. We know that enjoying time in nature has been so important to people this year, but we want to keep Marsden Moor looking beautiful.”

Below are some simple steps you can take to help protect the wildlife and moors;

  • Clear up and take your rubbish home after picnics.
  • Observe all signs and notices – they are there for a reason.
  • Follow the Countryside Code and look out for signs at National Trust and Yorkshire Water properties.
  • Don’t leave glass bottles. Not only can they hurt people and animals, but they can magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire.
  • If you notice anything suspicious report it by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the moor watch website at www.moorwatch.co.uk(Opens in a new window).
  • Never throw lighted cigarette ends onto the ground, or out of the window of vehicles or trains. Always ensure that they are completely extinguished and disposed of responsibly.
  • Never be tempted to light a fire in the countryside and only barbecue in authorised areas.

Recent fires

07/03/2021 – Time of call 17.32 hrs Withens Road, Wainstalls towards Ogden Reservoir.

Fire engines attended from Illingworth and Keighley, including the wildfire unit from Keighley and a wildfire officer.

21/03/2021 – Time of call 11:44 Withens New Road, Ogden

Appliances attended Fairweather Green, Keighley Fire Station’s Wildfire Unit, a fire engine from Keighley Fire Station, a second Wildfire Unit and support crew from Todmorden and a Wildfire Officer. The cause of the fire is believed to be deliberate. See two below pictures of this fire.