This is an archived press release
Thursday 16 June 2011Signs warning people to take extra care to prevent fires are going up this week on moorland sites in the Peak District.
Lack of rain in recent weeks has dried out the moors making them especially vulnerable to fires which harm wildlife, destroy rare plants and cause erosion, taking years to regenerate.
Firefighters and Peak District National Park rangers have already had to tackle six moorland fires since the beginning of April.
Fires have broken out at Dovestones near Oldham, Marsden Moor, Ramshaw Rocks near Warslow, Walker Edge near Broomhead reservoir, Moscar Moor near Ladybower and Reaps Moor near Warslow.
Moorland fires are especially tragic at this time of year when ground-nesting birds are rearing young, and other creatures, including lambs, can be caught in the flames. They are not only costly, they cause long-term damage to the fight against climate change as carbon locked up in the peat is released into the atmosphere.
People visiting the moors are asked never to light barbecues or campfires anywhere near them, nor to drop cigarette ends or leave glass behind. Car-users are asked not to throw cigarette-ends out of car windows.
Most fires are caused by human carelessness, but in some cases it is suspected that fires are set deliberately.
Peak District National Park head of field services Sean Prendergast said: “It is glorious weather for walking on the moors, but we’re asking people to be especially careful at this time of high fire risk.
“These are not empty places, they’re areas of international importance for their wildlife and plants, and they absorb and store carbon which helps tackle global warming.
“Moorland fires undo many years of hard work in managing these rare environments. If people see anyone acting suspiciously on the moors we ask them to report it to the police immediately.”
Fire warning signs have been erected by the National Park Authority, landowners including the National Trust and United Utilities, and gamekeepers responsible for the moors.
Rangers carry out extra fire patrols during dry weather, and the Peak District Fires Operations Group, which involves six fire and rescue services and major landowners along with the National Park Authority, is on standby to tackle any blaze in a remote area.