West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has launched its 'Be Moor Aware' campaign to prevent moorland fires this summer – after a series of blazes in the first half of 2019.

There have been 11 large moorland fires in the last six months across West Yorkshire, including on Ilkley Moor, causing devastation to wildlife and posing a potential threat to life and property.

The moorland fires have also required a huge fire service resource to tackle.

As the school summer holidays start, the fire service is joining with partners to urge the public to be vigilant and follow some basic rules to enjoy the beautiful moorlands without creating a fire threat to their future.

Firefighters and local dignitaries were among those who attended yesterday's launch of the campaign on Ilkley Moor – which saw a huge 7m x 9m banner unveiled down the ‘cow’ rock at the famous ‘cow and calf’ site on the moorland.

WYFRS Area Manager, Chris Kirby, said: “It’s crucial the public get behind this campaign to ensure this trend doesn’t continue.

“Some of the fires have been deliberate, which we utterly condemn – but most have been accidental and simply due to people being careless when out and about. As our campaign highlights – just one family barbecue can start a fire which destroys hundreds of hectares of beautiful moorland.”

WYFRS is supporting Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale councils with their new public space protection orders (PSPOs) which ban barbeques, fires and things like sky lanterns on moorland.

Chris added: “We don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun but we do want to make people aware of the serious consequences that a barbecue or a dropped cigarette can have, especially in tinder dry conditions.

“A fire can spread so quickly, once it’s caught there’s little you can do to stop it and before you know it there’s a catastrophic blaze with far reaching consequences. This not only impacts on local moorland and wildlife, but affects local businesses, especially if roads need to be closed for health and safety reasons.

“Please help us spread this simple message – Be Moor Aware!”

This year WYFRS attended a moorland fire (in Marsden) as early as February (26th) which is unprecedented for the time of year.

At its height, more than 35 firefighters were in attendance and part of the A62 was closed as a precaution.

Following this, 10 more large fires have taken place - the largest fire service response saw 23 fire engines called to Ilkley Moor on April 20th.