Ilkley Moor fire: Three arrests over blaze

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Firefighters on Ilkley MoorImage source, James Smith
Image caption,
Fire crews were called in to help from across the region as the blaze spread across moorland

Three men have been arrested after a large fire took hold on moorland in West Yorkshire.

Firefighters tackled flames covering 25,000 sq m on Ilkley Moor on Saturday, with helicopters making water drops.

West Yorkshire Police said the men, aged 19, 23 and 24, remain in custody for questioning while inquiries continue.

Bradford Council reiterated a warning for walkers to stay off the moors as crews were damping down.

A police spokesperson said a smaller fire took hold on a different section of the moor on Saturday, with investigations under way to see if it is connected to the larger blaze.

Image source, David Shepherdson
Image caption,
A wide area of Ilkley Moor, pictured here at 22:15 BST on Saturday, was well alight
Image source, James Smith
Image caption,
Beaters, water backpacks, pumps and helicopter water drops have been used to fight the fire

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) said the fire was in the White Wells area of the hillside, with smoke still clearly visible from the spa town below.

Water jets, beaters and specialist wildfire units are being used in the aftermath, with police describing the blaze as "under control".

Martin Langan, WYFRS incident commander, said: "We've managed to die the flames down but there's a significant amount of smoke blowing into Ilkley."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Mark Hunnebell said he had seen "countless" water drops from helicopters on Sunday morning

Police closed a section of Hangingstone Road near the Cow and Calf Rocks during the damping down operation.

Mark Hunnebell, who has run White Wells Spa Cafe for two decades, said his business was evacuated when the "fire started to spread towards us" at 19:00 BST on Saturday.

He said: "We've seen some fires here in the past, but I've never seen anything like the scale of this one.

"The helicopters have made countless water drops for most of the morning, they've been backwards and forwards constantly."

Image source, @newcol
Image caption,
The fire took hold in the White Wells area above the spa town of Ilkley

Christina Cheney, whose house backs onto the moor near an area known as The Tarn, praised the fire service for keeping residents safe.

"A large swathe of the moor looks quite devastated this morning, we're lucky our homes were all safe in the end," she said. "The same can't be said for so much wildlife."

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The Met Office confirmed that Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far, with 25.5C recorded in Gosport, Hampshire.

Forecasters have said the UK is set for record-breaking temperatures over the rest of the Easter bank holiday.

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