By Leah Conway –
Yesterday a 28-year-old man was sentenced for causing last year’s Marsden Moor fire.
Last year on 25 April, Viktor Riedly went to Marsden Moor and lit a firework which caused the fire. Leeds Crown Court heard how he tried to extinguish the fire, but it soon spread out of control.
The Marsden Moor fire lasted three days. It was a major incident that took over 100 firefighters from across West Yorkshire to tackle it.
Now, a year later, Viktor Riedly has received a custodial term of one year in prison. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is taking this as an opportunity to remind the public not to bring flammable objects onto moorland, which is a ban that runs all year round as part of a public spaces protection order (PSPO).
Speaking following the verdict, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Scott Donegan said, “We as a service very much welcome the sentence handed out today and hope it reminds others not to start fires on our moorland. This fire caused huge damage to the environment on the moor and required a large response from WYFRS.
“Fires like these are the reason we have Public Space Protection Orders banning flammable items like fireworks, barbeques and fires on moorland – they can have a devastating impact on the brilliant spaces we are lucky enough to have in West Yorkshire.”
The fire caused widespread damage to Marsden Moor – a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). It destroyed precious peatland habitat and harmed wildlife, including ground-nesting birds. It also cost £500,000 to support the emergency services and repair damage caused.
Recover from the fire
Since the fire, recovery work has begun, including the planting of 65,000 sphagnum moss plugs the moorland. Planting this moss helps to ‘re-wet’ moorland, which helps reduce the risk of further fires. The moss also helps restore the peat in the moorland and capture carbon.
The restoration work is thanks to a lot of volunteer work, including help from local school children and firefighters from the Meltham and Slaithwaite Fire Station.