Warning over moorland fires in the Peak District

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People are being urged to help prevent the risk of moorland fires in the Peak District National Park after some of the hottest July days on record.

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.

People are asked never to light barbecues or campfires when they visit the moors. They should also never drop cigarette ends (even if they think they are out) or leave glass.

Andy Farmer, the Peak District National Park Authority’s head of field services, said: “Moorland fires can cause considerable environmental damage to fragile moorland ecosystems. Wildlife or farm animals can be caught in the flames with horrific results.

“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. Most fires are caused by human carelessness, but some fires are suspected to be deliberate. If people see anyone acting suspiciously on the moors we ask them to report it to the police.”

Peak District National Park rangers carry out extra patrols during times of heightened fire risk.

Rangers along with land managers for the big moorland estates are erecting fire warning signs at car parks and key locations used by the public.

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.

With the high temperatures forecast into the weekend, people are urged to stay safe in the countryside.

Andy Farmer added: “People are looking to cool off in the heat but we urge them not to swim in reservoirs or other open waters, no matter how tempting they look. The sudden coldness of deep water, steep bank-sides, strong undercurrents and hidden drops mean that even the strongest swimmer can quickly get into serious trouble.”