A huge blaze which ripped through Yorkshire moorland home to special habitats and wildlife was 'likely' to have been started by a barbecue, the National Trust says.
Marsden Moor, in West Yorkshire, is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation.
The moor has numerous protections due to the ground-nesting bird population and blanket bog habitat.
And now the National Trust has confirmed that the fire, started on Sunday 21 April, was 'likely' to have been caused by a barbecue.
Previously, a fire which started on 21 February destroyed 121 hectares on the moor, and the most recent fire is the sixth reported on the moorland this year.
Fire now spread over into Denshaw, Saddleworth. scenes on A640 pic.twitter.com/xPxWOCguwG— joe bloggs (@joeblog87100720) 22 April 2019
In a statement, National Trust said: “We're devastated to see the destruction caused. Please help us protect the moors and wildlife by calling the fire brigade immediately if you spot any signs of fire.
“We need our visitors’ help to prevent the risk of fire across the countryside that we care for, particularly when we experience prolonged periods of dry weather or are in drought conditions.”
It is estimated the fire covered over 1500 hectares and is the most significant blaze in recent years on the moor.
At present, National Trust thinks that an investment of more than £200,000 in restoring this special habitat has been lost.
Some incredible footage taken by one of our staff on Ilkley Moor yesterday. Today is hot and dry again. Ongoing incidents on Ilkley and Marsden Moors overnight. PLEASE take extraordinary care if using outdoor spaces today. Risk of #Wildfire is high ???????? pic.twitter.com/m7oqvaKfmL— West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (@WYFRS) 22 April 2019
In response to offers of support, an appeal to the public for online donations has been created to help restore Marsden Moor.
It comes as farmers and landowners are warned of the tinder dry conditions putting the British countryside at high risk of devastating fires.
During last year's summer heatwave, in nearby Saddleworth, a farmer highlighted the destruction of the moor fire there and how one gamekeeper had lost everything because of it.