A CAMP fire has been revealed as the cause of the serious blaze which swept across more than 200 acres of moorland on The Roaches estate at Upperhulme, near Leek.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service director of prevent and protect, Glynn Luznyi said: “Although it is relief that this fire was not started deliberately it is very frustrating that it could have easily been prevented.
“We always urge people not to start fires in the open especially during weather like we have seen in the last few weeks.
Firefighters were called to the rapidly spreading blaze on Thursday, August 9, at around 1.30pm and has been on the scene since.
Fire crews from across Staffordshire and neighbouring counties have been tackling to the incident with support from partners including the Peak Park Authority and Severn Trent Water, while Staffordshire Police have helped to keep the area secure from the public.
A fire investigation was held on Wednesday, which concluded that a camp fire had got out of control and spread to the rest of the land.
During the investigation the officers found a fire pit (pictured above) which had been created out of rocks.
From speaking to local residents it is believed that people had been ‘wild camping’ in the area and had built a fire. It appears they had made attempts to cover the fire with more rocks to extinguish the fire but this was not enough to prevent it from spreading across the 200 acres of land which has ultimately been destroyed as a result of this incident.
During the initial stages of the incident several residents had to be evacuated from their homes for their own safety whilst firefighters tackled the fire.
Glynn Luznyj said: “The heatwave has made everything extremely dry and flammable, which no doubt contributed to the quick spread of this blaze along with the strong winds.
“This is a stark reminder not to start a fire even if you think you are being extremely careful as it can easily get out of hand. This is also the case for disposable barbecues in the countryside or disposing of cigarettes. Any small spark or ember could lead to a large fire.
“We are expecting to remain at the scene for the next couple of days in order to extinguish the fire completely, a task which has been extremely difficult for firefighters under these conditions.
“We are extremely grateful to all our partners, organisations and members of the public for their ongoing support during this incident.”
For more information on outdoor safety visit the Service’s website: www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/your-safety/safety-outside/