Marsden moorland fire: 'Apocalyptic' moorland blaze put out

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Media caption,

The fire could be seen for miles around

Fire crews have extinguished a huge blaze on moorland in West Yorkshire.

The fire, described by one witness as "apocalyptic", started at about 19:30 GMT on Tuesday and covered about 1.5 sq km of land near Marsden.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said it was "one of the biggest moorland fires we've ever had to deal with".

It came as the UK broke the record for the warmest winter day for a second time and on the same day as a gorse fire on Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.

Following a night spent tackling the blaze, near Saddleworth Moor between Huddersfield and Manchester, a fire service spokesperson said: "The fire now looks to be out."

However, they said crews and specialist moorland firefighting units "will remain at the scene for much of the day to tackle any further hot spots".

At its height, more than 35 firefighters were in attendance at the National Trust property and the A62 between Colne Valley and Diggle was closed as a precaution.

Image source, Reuters
Image source, Getty Images

Station manager Adam Greenwood said when crews arrived about 4 sq km of moorland was ablaze.

"It was one of the highest flame fronts we have seen, with flames of up to two metres high, and it was moving fast across the moorland," he said.

"The fire looks to be out however moorland fires can easily reignite so it's important that we monitor it closely.

"We expect to be at the moors for much of the day."

There have been no reports of any injuries.

People living near to the scene have been advised to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed.

But the fire service said "risks to health are low".

Image source, Getty Images
Image source, Getty Images
Image source, PA

BBC Yorkshire climate correspondent Paul Hudson said that, like much of the UK, the region had faced unseasonal winter temperatures.

He said: "These kind of temperatures, 18C or 19C, are what you would normally see in early June.

"There's been a prolonged abnormally warm spell and we've also had an exceptionally dry start to 2019.

"The temperature on Wednesday is also set to be pretty similar."

Station commander Tony Pearson said moor fires in February were "very unusual but not unheard of".

He said: "We've had a few dry days and it's dried the land out a little bit."

He described the location as "horrendous" as it took firefighters an hour to get there due to the terrain.

Mr Pearson said: "It was really uneven ground, really difficult working conditions on there.

Image source, Getty Images

Mike Elliot, from the National Trust, said the heather on the moorland had only just re-established itself after a blaze about three years ago.

He said: "It's gradually got back to its normal self, but unfortunately it's going to have to start again.

"What we're doing here is trying to stabilise the moorland with all the heather as that keeps all the peat out of the watercourse."

Image source, Getty Images
Image source, Getty Images

The Edinburgh gorse fire broke out at a similar time on Tuesday, and two large fires started within an hour of each other in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex earlier.

In June and July last year, firefighters from 20 different brigades were drafted in to help tackle two huge moorland fires which burnt for several weeks.

Firefighters spent more than a month battling a huge fire covering 18 sq km (6.9 sq miles) at Winter Hill, near Bolton.

The Army was drafted in to help Greater Manchester crews deal with a blaze on Saddleworth Moor in Tameside.

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