A PLEA has been issued for people to respect the countryside after a string of moorland blazes.

A specialist wildfire unit based at Keighley fire station has already been busy this year, attending several incidents.

Now West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has relaunched its Be Moor Aware campaign, in partnership with the National Trust and Yorkshire Water.

The initiative calls on the public to be vigilant, especially as lockdown restrictions ease and the ‘rule of six’ returns to England ­– allowing people to gather outdoors in larger numbers.

The brigade’s area manager, Scott Donegan, said: “We know people will be eager to share time with family members they have not seen in so long and getting outdoors is a great way to support our physical and mental health.

“We would just like to remind people that if they are planning to socialise in the great outdoors, please respect public space protection orders which are in place to protect our precious landscapes – and behave responsibly so not to cause fires.

“We’ve seen a number of fires in the countryside in recent weeks and at this time of year we do tend to see an increase as the weather picks-up.

“We are relaunching our Be Moor Aware campaign to remind people to be vigilant. Wildfires can spread very quickly, threatening the safety of people, animals and property.

“They take a lot of the fire service’s time and resources to extinguish, meaning that our firefighters could be tied-up dealing with a moorland fire when there is a serious house fire or road traffic collision elsewhere where people’s lives are in danger.

“Please do think of the consequences of your actions and be responsible.”

Backing is given by Gaynor Craigie, head of land and property at Yorkshire Water.

She said: “It is important that those visiting Yorkshire’s beautiful open spaces are responsible and ensure the land is left how they found it for others to enjoy.

“Often wildfires are caused by visitors lighting fires or barbecues and we’ve already had incidents on our land near Ogden reservoir, which could have been far more serious. It is important that visitors to the countryside do everything they can to prevent fires.”

For advice, visit westyorksfire.gov.uk/your-safety/community/be-moor-aware.