York & North Yorkshire

Threat of 'tinderbox' North York Moors fires

Previous fire on North York Moors
Image caption Officials fear a major fire in the park in the warm weather

"Tinderbox" conditions in a national park have prompted officials to put up fire warning notices ahead of two consecutive bank holiday weekends.

Staff at the North York Moors park said moors and forests were at risk.

With two holiday weekends approaching staff have warned about barbecues or discarded cigarettes.

A fire alert for the park has now been declared with officials warning of the threat to not just the vegetation but to wildlife.

Park officials said that with warm weather set to continue over the Easter weekend, coupled with a lack of rain and very dry ground vegetation such as heather and bracken, they had made the decision to put the North York Moors on fire alert.

'Significant damage'

Bernie McLinden, head of park management, said: "Past episodes have shown that under these tinderbox conditions, moorland fires can spread extremely quickly causing significant damage to the landscape and its wildlife.

"Moorland fires at this time of year can be particularly devastating as birds, such as lapwing and curlew, are nesting on the ground."

Visitors are being asked to avoid lighting fires and barbecues and to not discard cigarettes, matches or glass bottles including throwing cigarette ends out of car windows.

Mr McLinden said if people see a fire, they should report it quickly to the fire service by dialling 999 so that they can take the appropriate action.

The controlled heather burning period for gamekeepers has now ended, any fire spotted will be an accidental fire and should be reported, she added.

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