Alerts issued after this small disposable barbecue sparks huge Derbyshire blaze

This disposable barbecue caused the huge blaze. Picture submitted.
This disposable barbecue caused the huge blaze. Picture submitted.
  • Newly-released pictures show the devastation caused by a big moorland blaze near Ladybower Reservoir
  • With warmer days and summer around the corner, multiple warnings are issued after the fire
  • National Trust chiefs hail joint efforts to fight the flames and hit back at criticism
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Last week, the peace and tranquility of the Upper Derwent Valley near Ladybower Reservoir was shattered by a devastating fire.

It was the area’s worst moorland blaze since 2004, destroying 105 acres of heather and killing nesting birds.

After the fire, two National Trust rangers attended the moorland to damp down hotspots in the peat. Picture submitted.

After the fire, two National Trust rangers attended the moorland to damp down hotspots in the peat. Picture submitted.

The cause of the chaos? A small disposable barbecue.

Ted Talbot, Peak District countryside manager at the National Trust, which owns the land, said: “When you see this beautiful area go up in flames, it’s natural to feel emotional and look to blame someone.

“But we know what’s to blame – some fool came up here with a disposable barbecue on a hot day, didn’t put it out properly and left it.

“Disposable barbecues have absolutely no place in areas like this and should not be used.

Disposable barbecues have absolutely no place in areas like this and should not be used

Ted Talbot, Peak District countryside manager at the National Trust

“We would always advise people to be fire safe when visiting the Peak District.”

Firefighters echoed his warning while a spokesman for Ladybower Reservoir said: “This blaze was completely preventable.

“We cannot emphasise enough the dangers of using barbecues in warm weather in such dry locations.

“The fire started out small and within a couple of hours was covering thousands of square metres of land.”

Looking towards the woodland where the blaze started. Picture submitted.

Looking towards the woodland where the blaze started. Picture submitted.

Ted, who has worked with the National Trust for two years, drove me up the valley where I could see the terrible effects of the seven-hour blaze, which started at about 1pm on Monday, May 9.

Swathes of black, burned-out land were visible with the naked eye.

Ted said: “It’s too early to say exactly how long it will take the affected vegitation to grow back – but it will grow back.

“It was a big fire – although it could have been a whole lot worse.

Gamekeepers spent the night tackling the fire. Picture by George Smallwood.

Gamekeepers spent the night tackling the fire. Picture by George Smallwood.

“There was a fantastic response from the gamekeepers, the fire service, the National Trust and the Peak District National Park Authority.

“We recognise the importance of working together on moorland fires to help manage and prevent them from spreading.

“The following day, the wind changed direction and there was a lot of rain which helped the situation.

“I’ve never been pleased to see so much rain,” laughed Ted.

During the incident, two park rangers were injured when their 4x4 vehicle overturned.

One suffered mild concussion while the other broke their collarbone.

Ted Talbot, Peak District countryside manager at the National Trust. Picture submitted.

Ted Talbot, Peak District countryside manager at the National Trust. Picture submitted.

They are both said to be doing well.

Following the blaze, gamekeepers questioned moorland management policies implemented by the National Trust in 2012 – but Ted hit back.

As reported last week, gamekeeper Kieran Logan said: “This is devastating.

“200 acres of heather moorland, which is actually rarer than the rainforest, gone in an instant, all because we are not allowed to burn off patches like we used to do.

“By burning selected areas annually and keeping the heather at different heights it used to create natural fire barriers.

“But we’re not allowed to do that anymore and now there are unbroken areas of heather, which is a huge source of energy for accidental fires.

“It will take at least 15 years for this to recover and I dread to think how many nesting birds have been killed.”

However, Ted said: “It’s important to remember that our High Peak Moors Vision plan of 2012 was agreed by our tenants, including gamekeepers, after heavy consultation.

“Through the plan – which sets out our vision for the area for the next 50 years and beyond – we are seeking to restore the moors.

“On this land we are trying to restore extensive peat-based blanket bogs, which involves making them wetter and hence more resilient to fire damage in the long run. 

“As part of this we encourage well-planned vegetation cutting and managed burning to mitigate the risks from fire.”