Leeds & West Yorkshire

Arsonist Mohammed Zulkifl detained for Ilkley Moor fire

Mohammed Zulkifl Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Mohammed Zulkifl was spotted starting the fire by council wardens

A man who set fire to moorland with a cigarette lighter for the "fun of it" has been detained for 27 months.

The blaze, started by Mohammed Zulkifl, was one of several that raged above White Wells on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire during hot weather in April.

Zulkifl, aged 20, of Rufford Street, Bradford, admitted arson at Bradford Crown Court.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said left to its own devices, the fire could have been catastrophic.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp described how, on 20 April, emergency services had already declared a major incident after a large fire took hold in the White Wells area.

A second fire then broke out on part of the moor, putting extreme pressure on the emergency services.

Image copyright Ilkley Chat
Image caption The fires on Ilkley Moor were tackled by some 70 firefighters

The court heard at about 20:00 BST that day, Zulkifl was seen by council wardens setting fire to the grass with a cigarette light.

Mr Sharp said he stamped the fire out but then lit the grass again and walked away.

The court heard although the fire started by Zulkifl was put out quickly, the major blazes caused extensive damage to about 50 acres of moorland.

Natural England said the full extent of the damage was still unclear but restoration, if that was possible, would take a long time.

Image copyright James Kelly
Image caption Fire crews were called in from across the region to help deal with the blaze

Kate Batty, mitigating, said Zulkifl did not intend for the fire to spread and his behaviour was "impulsive and immature" but lacked malice.

Sentencing him to be detained at a young offenders institute, the judge said Ilkley Moor was a "beautiful and vulnerable area which was etched into the national psyche".

"Firefighters can die doing this work and every firefighter is aware of the risks attending jobs like this," he said.

"You set fire to dry moorland for the fun of it, or a stupid reason.

"This court will not send any message out other than, anybody - whoever, whatever they are - who sets fire to moorland will be dealt with."

Ch Insp Mark Long, of Bradford police, said: "Zulkifl's actions when the fire service were already tackling a separate fire on the moorland were nothing short of reckless."

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