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Peak District wildfire under control thanks to quick-thinking rural workers and moorland management

Keepers and farmers were on the scene quickly to help extinguish the fire

Earlier this week, a wildfire broke out on moorland belonging to the Moscar Estate, in the Peak District. As we all know from previous incidences of moorland wildfires, these fires can have disastrous consequences, destroying habitats and nests, killing reptiles, insects and other animals, and releasing vast amount of carbon dioxide and smoke particles into the atmosphere at the same time.

Specialist equipment was on hand to put out the flames

It was hugely fortunate therefore that the fire on Tuesday broke out on moorland which is properly keepered and has land management practices in place which help to stop the fire from quickly spreading out of control, as has happened on so many instances in the past on unmanaged moorland.

Thanks to a combination of experienced gamekeepers, farmers and fire crews who arrived quickly at the scene, the fire was extinguished shortly after it was discovered, with spades, Scotties and jet packs all used to stop the flames.

The scene at Moscar

The real problem on these moors when it comes to wildfires is that rather than the flames ripping through dead vegetation across the moors, the edges of gullies have now become a hotspot for the spread of fire.

On the basis of attempting to re-wet the moors with stone dams, policy makers also put a stop to the tested and long-used practice of burning gully sides out, which reduces the combustible fuel load.

This means that these gully sides are now densely vegetated and often carry more combustible fuel load, which has been highlighted by land managers as being very dangerous in wildfire situations. These vegetated gullies can act like a chimney, drawing the flame along them and also increasing the temperature – which then causes the temperature of the peat below to heat up and, in some cases, ignite.

As the edges of gullies and cloughs are nigh-on impossible to reach with cutting machinery, the use of controlled burning is a vital tool in controlling the amount of dead vegetation and fuel load on gully edges.

While estate workers, neighbours and the fire services were quickly on hand to stop the main area of fire on Moscar on Tuesday – with the fire’s ability to spread reduced by the management systems which create fire breaks on the moors and reduce the amount of fuel load – the main problem was putting a stop to the fires along the gully edges. Smouldering peat and vegetation on the gully edges had to be dug out in order to prevent the burning areas from doing more damage; the leaky stone dams installed to re-wet the moor are clearly visible in the video below.

Smouldering peat and vegetation on the gully edges being dug out to prevent it doing more damage. The leaky stone dams installed to re-wet the moor are clearly visible.


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