May 27, 2022

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Marsden Moor fire: Viktor Riedly jailed after firework sparked blaze

Marsden Moor fire: Viktor Riedly jailed after firework sparked blaze

A man who started a mile-long blaze on moorland near Huddersfield after setting off a firework has been jailed for 12 months.

More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze on Marsden Moor after Viktor Riedly lit the firecracker at Black Moss Reservoir on 25 April 2021.

The fire service declared a major incident as it spread out of control.

Riedly, 28, was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court after admitting arson at a previous magistrates’ court hearing.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) said Riedly, of Henry Street, Huddersfield, tried to extinguish the fire before it eventually destroyed precious peatland habitat and harmed wildlife.

The fire cost about £500,000 in damage and emergency resources.

Barbecues and fires are banned on the moors all year round to protect the landscape, with anyone breaching the ban liable to face a fine of up to £2,000.

Scott Donegan, WYFRS area manager, said he hoped Riedly’s sentence would act as a deterrent for others “not to start fires on our moorland”.

“Fires like these are the reason we have Public Space Protection Orders banning flammable items like fireworks, barbecues and fires on moorland. They can have a devastating impact on the brilliant spaces we are lucky enough to have in West Yorkshire,” he said.

The National Trust, which manages the land, said recovery work had already begun, with 65,000 sphagnum moss plugs planted over the autumn and winter, which “helps to re-wet the moorland, reducing the risk of future fires”.

Most of the planting was done by volunteers, including local school children and firefighters, the National Trust said.

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Marsden Moor is a Site of Special Scientific Interest famous for rare ground-nesting birds and blanket peat bogs.

It is also home to short-eared owls and mountain hares, the trust said.