Moorland fire warning after huge Rishworth blaze

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West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is issuing wildfire prevention advice after a huge moorland fire near Rishworth on Sunday.

It took around 60 firefighters and numerous specialist resources to tackle the blaze, which could be seen from the M62 motorway.

Firefighters were called to the half-mile flame front which was being driven by windy conditions at around 10pm.

At the height of the blaze, eight fire engines were at the scene and supporting crews came from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Crews used open water from a nearby reservoir to extinguish the fire using two jets and well as leaf blowers and beaters, in what has been described as “physically demanding” job.

Group manager Toby May said: “I arrived at approximately 11pm when the initial attending crews were working hard to try and contain the incident.

“It was apparent immediately that we were going to be dealing with a large scale moorland wildfire that was severely wind driven.

“The fire was approximately half a mile in distance and was in a V shape, the flames were about eight feet in height at some points.”

One option was to allow the fire to burn out under controlled conditions but there was too much of a risk of further spread.

Mr May said: “Controlled fires on moorland are actually used as conservation/regeneration techniques, under strict rules and regulation, but a large scale fire such as this can have detrimental effects on the environment and also be a severe threat to life, property and infrastructure such as the nearby motorway.

“My decision was to extinguish the fire to ensure it wasn’t going to develop into a considerable larger scale incident.”

The fire was extinguished by 3am on March 27.

“I must say that I was immensely proud and impressed by the work ethic and professionalism of all personnel that dealt with the incident, including the support we received from Greater Manchester,” Mr May added.

“The fire was challenging in terms of size, location and intensity but crews worked tirelessly to extinguish the fire and contain the incident – a job very well done.”

There will be ecological affects to the moorland as a result of the fire and the cause is currently unknown.

People are being asked to follow these tips to prevent moorland fires.

-Clear up and take your rubbish home after picnics

-Observe all signs and notices

-Follow the National Trust Countryside Code

-Don’t leave glass bottles.

-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 use barbecues in authorised areas

Picture by Michael D Smith