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BLAZE ON MOORS; Devastation for wildlife as wind sweeps fire.

Byline: NEIL ATKINSON

ONE of Huddersfield's top wildlife areas has been devastated by fire.

More than 40 firefighters were joined by volunteers to try and stop a fierce blaze which swept across Round Hill at Standedge yesterday.

The blaze, near Redbrook Reservoir, was fanned by strong winds late into the afternoon and early evening - destroying a big stretch of the moor.

It is thought it will have killed many rare birds in nests on the moors as well as other wildlife as it burned across an area stretching for more than a quarter of a mile.

The massive fire-fighting operation, which began shortly before 2.30pm yesterday, continued well into the night.

Fire crews from eight stations who had been called to the scene were relieved by other crews last night after spending hours fighting the flames.

At one point, the fires reached almost to the banks of the reservoir - a popular attraction for walkers and visitors, who park on the A62

Manchester Road which runs on the other side of the water.

It is overlooked by The Great Western pub, busy with Bank Holiday drinkers and diners.

Fire crews from Marsden, Meltham, Huddersfield, Slaithwaite, Holmfirth, Elland and Rochdale tackled the fire.

They were helped by volunteers from the National Trust, who own and manage the moor and by conservationists.

The Marsden Moor estate is regarded as an important habitat, with a wide variety of wildlife and birds including golden plover and curlew.

Guy Laurie, who manages the Marsden Moor estate covering more than 5,000 acres, said: "We have lost a terrible amount of wildlife in this tragedy. It's all gone.

"It will take us days to work out what breeds have been destroyed. But the toll could be very high. This is a crucial time of the year for nesting birds." Diggle-based Pennine Helicopters rushed to the scene and ran an aerial shuttle service scooping up water from the reservoir and dumping it on the flames to enable fire-beaters to snuff them out.

The fire crews carried special lightweight pumps up on to the burning moorland to take water from the reservoir.

But much of the fire-fighting operation was down to hard, manual labour, with firefighters and volunteers using beaters to put out small pockets of fire as they spread.

It was the second large moorland blaze of the Spring, following a huge fire at Ripponden early last month.

Fire chiefs and others have warned people of the risks and urged visitors to the moorland to avoid anything that could start a blaze, especially discarded cigarettes and matches..

CAPTION(S):

DAMAGE: Fire continues to sweep across the blackened moorland at the opposite side of Redbrook Reservoir from Manchester Road BIG BLAZE: Firefighters had to trek across the moors near Pule Hill to the blaze after arriving from several local stations and from Rochdale
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 4, 2009
Words:475
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