7 Large Scale West Yorkshire Moorland Fires In 2019

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue battling increasing number of huge fires set by people.

By Elizabeth, 15, and Isabel, 15, Oldham. · November 19, 2019

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue has tackled seven large scale outdoor fires so far this year.

In 2014/15, there was only one accidental moorland/heathland fire that required attendance by five or more fire engines. However, in 2019/20, this figure had risen to three accidental fires of this category, plus a further four set deliberately.

In June 2018, Saddleworth Moor, on the Manchester side of the Peak District, saw a huge fire that forced residents of Stalybridge to leave their homes.

Pic: Unsplash/ Joanne Francis

Meanwhile, the number of deliberately started grassland, woodland and other ‘wildfires’ in West Yorkshire has more than doubled in a year, according to a Freedom of Information request made to West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

There were 1,941 deliberately set fire under this category in 2018/19, up from 911 in 2017/18, a rise of 113%. The increase is noticeable: between 2014/15 and 2017/18, these deliberately set fires rose from by just 17%, from 778 to 911 wildfires a year.

Meanwhile, accidentally set grassland, woodland and other ‘wildfires’ rose from 354 in 2017/18 to 1,138 in 2018/19, increasing by 221%. Overall, these types of fires have risen by 143% since 2017/18, up from 1,265 to 3,079 in 2018/19.

In just four days in July 2018, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to 438 open area fires.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue categorise both arson and deliberate acts of ignition that end in fire- such as deliberately lighting a cigarette which accidentally causes a moorland fire- as ‘deliberate’.

In response to these increased occurrences, the service has launched a ‘Be Moor Aware’ campaign

Why did students cover this story?

Elizabeth and Isabel decided to cover this story because “We both witnessed the damage first-hand. We both care about the environment and wanted to spread the word about what must be done to save it.”