It’s exactly two years since a devastating blaze ripped through wildlife habitats on Marsden Moor, causing £500,000-worth of damage.
The fire was started by a barbecue and, in the aftermath, a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) was put in place to ban bonfires, fireworks and barbecues.
But this weekend firefighters were called out to tackle a mile-long blaze on National Trust land near Black Moss Reservoir.
A specialist helicopter had to be drafted in, taking water from the reservoir to drop on burning moorland.
The area is known for its breeding bird habitat and is a popular site for rare curlews. It is also home to short-eared owls and mountain hares.
The National Trust said it was believed the blaze had been started by someone letting off fireworks. The moorland is tinder dry after one of the driest Aprils on record.
West Yorkshire Police said the fire was “believed to be accidental and no arrests have been made.”
Colin Parr, strategic director for climate and environment at Kirklees Council, said: “Fire poses a devastating risk to our precious moorlands, visitors, local residents and animals and other wildlife nearby.
“We believe this fire was caused by the actions of somebody who disobeyed the PSPO order.
“This is not only illegal and irresponsible but shows a total disregard for protecting our valuable countryside for all our residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Evidence of people behaving irresponsibly is easy to find. Only a few days ago Slaithwaite Fire Station posted a picture of a discarded barbecue in the car park at Buckstones.
The post said there were reports of people having a barbecue and setting off fireworks. The area is covered by a PSPO just like Marsden Moor.
The post added: “The moors are highly vulnerable to fires starting at the moment.”
And as smoke drifted across the moors from the latest blaze, photographer Sean Doyle took a picture of a cigarette end dumped on the grass just feet away from the Wessenden Head sign.
Craig Best, countryside manager for the National Trust, said the latest fire was “started by people” and could easily have been avoided.
He said: “It’s so frustrating to see yet another fire on our moors after all the hard work our team have put in to try and restore the landscape after last time.
“Although not on the same area of land as the 2019 fire, this fire has also destroyed a crucial area for rare birds and mammals.
”Unfortunately, this was another fire started by people, and could have so easily been avoided.”
The moor is still recovering after the 2019 blaze – in fact it’s no exaggeration to say it could take thousands of years.
The National Trust said: “Although it looks like much of the grass has already grown back on the moor, the damage is deep and long lasting.
“The moor’s lost its diverse range of plants which help support the rare birds and mountain hares that live there.
“Important peat soils have been scorched and destroyed, the front line in the battle against climate change. This peat will take hundreds if not thousands of years to recover.
“In total, it’s estimated that the fires in 2019 caused £500,000-worth of damage.”