Ilkley Moor fire: Arrests made over blaze

Helicopter drops
Helicopters are making water drops on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire to help with damping down and prevent further flames

Arrests have been made after a large fire took hold on moorland in West Yorkshire, police said.

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

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

The local authority called it a “full multi-agency response” with about 70 firefighters still in attendance on the moor.

Fire on Ilkley Moor
A wide area of Ilkley Moor, pictured here at 22:15 on Saturday, was well alight

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 also helping to deal with the aftermath of the fire.

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.

“The critical point is around midday when it gets its hottest, that’s where the potential lies for us because that’s when the seat of fire can spark up again.”

Ilkley Moor
Fire crews were called in from across the region to help deal with the blaze

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

Mark Hunnebell, who has run the 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.”

Ilkley
The fire took hold in the White Wells area above the spa town of Ilkley

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn Twitter that the “awful scenes” on the moor were a reminder “of why we urgently need to tackle climate change”.

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.”

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

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