FIREFIGHTERS confronted a wall of flames more than half a mile long as a moorland blaze raged at the end of the hottest winter day on record.
The inferno on Marsden Moor, west of Huddersfield, quickly spread after a spell of warm, dry weather and could be seen for miles around.
Station commander Tony Pearson, from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said moor fires in February were ‘very unusual’.
Thomas Smith, an environmental geography professor at the London School of Economics, said it was not possible to attribute this month’s weather to global warming.
But he added: ‘These warm spells will become more likely with climate change, and so we should expect fire activity like we’ve seen this week to happen more frequently in future.’
The blaze on Tuesday night — after Britain had witnessed a historic high of 21.2C — posed a tough challenge for the fire crews because of its remote location and the uneven ground.
But it appeared to be out yesterday, with a large swathe of scorched black earth left behind. Residents said such fires were common later in the year but never happened in February, when the moor was usually covered in snow.
Bernard Thorpe said it came within 400 yards of his smallholding, where he keeps alpacas, adding that some of the flames ‘looked 6ft high’.
Firefighters also tackled a gorse blaze that spread across 2,600sq ft at Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.