United Kingdom — The Peak District National Park Authority is putting up warning signs over moorland fires on sites in the Peak District this week with rangers warning that the moors are currently very vulnerable and carrying out extra fire patrols.
The past few weeks have been relatively free of rain and the moors have dried out leaving them highly susceoptible to fires, which damage wildlife, destroy rare plants and cause erosion. Fires in peat-based areas can burn on for weeks even when apparently extinguished making them a major head-ache for fire fighters.
To underline the danger, there have already been six moorland fires in the area since the beginning of April at Dovestones near Oldham, Marsden Moor, Ramshaw Rocks near Warslow, Walker Edge near Broomhead reservoir, Moscar Moor near Ladybower and Reaps Moor near Warslow.
Most fires, says the PDNPA, are caused by carelessness, though a few may be started deliberately. Visitors are being told not to light barbecues or campfires anywhere near the moors, not to drop cigarette ends or leave glass behind. Additionally, drivers shouldn’t throw cigarette ends out of their windows.
Peak District National Park head of field services Sean Prendergast said: It is glorious weather for walking on the moors, but were asking people to be especially careful at this time of high fire risk.
These are not empty places, theyre 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. If people see anyone acting suspiciously on the moors we ask them to report it to the police immediately.
Fire warning signs have been erected by the National Park Authority, landowners including the National Trust and United Utilities, and gamekeepers responsible for the moors.
Rangers carry out extra fire patrols during dry weather, and 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.
In previous years, when fire risk is high, the Park Authority has closed open access land, though public rights of way have remained open.