The South Pennines Fire Operations Group (FOG) has warned of the danger posed by wildfires, which can strike anywhere in the South Pennines, to endangered wildlife, farm livestock, valuable habitat and human health.
As good weather both dries out the peatland and encourages more people into the countryside the likelihood of wildfires increases at this time of year.
Danny Jackson, FOG chairman, said: “Spring is a real danger period for moorland wildfires, which is why the partners working together through FOG, including firefighters, local authorities, local police and landowners, are asking members of the public to be extra vigilant when out in the countryside.
“The negative impact of wildfires across the moors is widely recognised, including the economic impact on farmers through the loss of grazing. The loss of habitat and the effect that these fires have on nesting birds, such as the endangered twite, can also clearly be seen but in addition we want to highlight the hidden dangers; the pollution, the release of carbon into the atmosphere, and the impact on people’s health.”
Between October 1 and April 15 some controlled burning by landowners takes place, but a fire started outside of these dates is a wildfire and any person caught starting one can be prosecuted for arson.
Adam Greenwood, wildfire officer for the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the message was clear: “Please be very careful when you are out on the moors. Dispose of any glass bottles and cigarettes in a responsible manner and remember to use your barbecue at home rather than on the moors.
“If you see a wildfire please report it through the 999 service giving its location as precisely as possible.”