Huge fire devastates moorland

A huge fire north of Baslow devastated over a square kilometre of moorland on Monday, and members of the firefighting teams believe the blaze could have been started deliberately.

More than 40 firefighters from the Derbyshire Fire Service joined dozens of rangers from the Eastern Moors Partnership, The National Trust and the Peak District National Park teams after the fire on Big Moor, between Owler Bar and Curbar Edge, was spotted by Eastern Moors staff at noon.

A helicopter collects water  to use on the burning moors above Baslow, Derbyshire, on Monday, May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali.

A helicopter collects water to use on the burning moors above Baslow, Derbyshire, on Monday, May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali.

The bone dry conditions of ground vegetation and lack of rain means the National Park is currently on high alert for moorland fires, and rangers have erected warning notices at access points around the Peak.

“In these very dry conditions, we’re asking the public to do two things to help us to look after our wildlife and these special places,” said Danny Udall from the Eastern Moors Partnership of the RSPB and the National Trust.

“Firstly, please don’t bring barbecues, cigarettes or any sources of fire onto the moors. And secondly, please be vigilant for us - if you see anything suspicious, or see any smoke or fire, please call 999 straight away as the quicker we can get to a fire, the smaller it will be.”

The moor’s livestock and red deer populations were able to get way from the fire, but many small mammals, reptiles and snakes would not have been so lucky, said Danny. The fire is likely to have burned nests and killed chicks of lapwing, curlews, whinchat and skylark.

A helicopter drops water on to the burning moors above Baslow, Derbyshire, on Monday, May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali.

A helicopter drops water on to the burning moors above Baslow, Derbyshire, on Monday, May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali.

Fire crew evidence and sightings by members of the public earlier in the day suggest the Big Moor fire could well have been deliberately started.

“People are very passionate about this place, and so it’s difficult to understand why someone would choose to set fire to moorland, particularly when there’s wildlife involved,” said Danny Udall. “We can’t comprehend it. But we can’t be everywhere 24 hours a day, so that’s why it’s so important for the public to be our eyes and ears. At the moment we are all still on high alert.”

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in the Peak District on May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in the Peak District on May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali

A huge fire north of Baslow, Derbyshire, devastated over a square kilometre of moorland on Monday, May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali

A huge fire north of Baslow, Derbyshire, devastated over a square kilometre of moorland on Monday, May 21. Photo - Zafar Ali