Scorched Earth

Moor fires overnight off Blackstone Edge Road, above Cragg Vale.'Fire fighters return to rest after the large fire
Moor fires overnight off Blackstone Edge Road, above Cragg Vale.'Fire fighters return to rest after the large fire

FIREFIGHTERS waged an exhausting battle against a second moorland blaze that left two square miles of Calderdale scorched black. Resources were stretched to the limit as crews from across West Yorkshire tackled the latest wildfire, off Cragg Road in Cragg Vale.

Meanwhile, others were still beating back flames at Ovenden Moor, near Wainstalls, Halifax, which broke out on Saturday.

The hottest April on record has created tinderbox conditions that saw heathland across the UK going up in smoke last night.

Calderdale stations are still on red alert amid fears of more flare-ups. Nigel Craven, group manager at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There is just enough breeze to get a fire going and everything is tinder-dry.”

He said the conditions were what he would expect in mid-summer and urged moorland visitors to take extra care.

“Everyone needs to be really careful and make sure they are not giving an ignition source for the grass to get burning,” he said.

The causes of both blazes are still under investigation but they are suspected to be the result of carelessness or arson.

“There is not a great deal in nature to start fires,” said Mr Craven.

The latest blaze broke out at around 6pm on Monday and raged for up to 16 hours. At its peak, 60 firefighters were battling the flames.

Mr Craven said over a quarter of the the area’s fire resources had been used up dealing with it.

“We’ve had 10 appliances here and we have to change those every now and again, so at any one time we could have 20 fire appliances out of a fleet of 53 that are tied up,” he said.

Up to 30 firefighters were at Ovenden Moor at the height of that blaze.

Crews tackled both fires with jets, backpacks and beaters. A helicopter from Yorkshire Water, which owns the land, was also used.

Matt Thompson, Yorkshire Water spokesman, thanked the fire service for its “incredible efforts” and echoed its warning. “We’d urge people to be really careful when it comes to discarding any cigarette butts, and make sure any disposable barbecues are absolutely out and not giving off any heat.

“It has been very dry for the last few weeks so obviously the moorland is more susceptible than ever.”

Anyone who sees any suspicious activity on the moors is asked to call Yorkshire Water on 0845 1242424 or police on 0845 6060606.

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