Families evacuated as wildfires spread across Yorkshire moorland on hottest day of the year

Katie French
Wildfires on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire - REX

Firefighters have been battling a large wildfire in West Yorkshire as temperatures soared on the hottest day of the year so far

Witnesses described the blaze whipped up on Ilkley Moor as "like something from a movie" as flames spread rapidly across 50 acres of moorland yesterday. 

Firefighters were called there just after midday as Britain baked in temperatures of up to 25C. 

Last night, firefighters remained at the scene as they attempted to get the inferno under control. 

Dramatic photographs showed a line of flames stretching across the moor with plumes of smoke rising in the air. 

Martyn Hughes, watch manager at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted live updates.

“The intense heat, steep slopes and rough terrain are causing the fire to spread rapidly whilst we try to get near the flames," he posted. 

Wildfires rage across Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire Credit: REX

The fire was still burning at 11pm last night. “Despite frantic efforts by all involved it looks like the moor will continue to burn long in to the sunset,” said Mr Hughes.

Witnesses described the fire with alarm on social media. Simon Thake posted to Twitter: "My mum and dad have just been evacuated from their house in Ilkley because of the moor fire, crazy weather." 

And one woman wrote: "(Just) popped to Ilkley and it's honestly like something from a movie."

Another added: "This is a travesty, if only we still had April showers." 

This comes as the Met Office confirmed yesterday was the hottest day of the year, with a temperature of 25.5C recorded in Gosport, Hampshire. This weekend is anticipated to be the warmest Easter on record.

This is not the first moorland fire of 2019, with wildfires destroying acres of Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester in February following the hottest winter day since records began. 

The scenes were reminiscent of last summer, where troops from the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, were drafted in to help more than 100 firefighters tackle the seven square miles of smouldering pockets of fire. 

While the cause of the Ilkley Moor fire is not yet known, hot weather can lead to ‘tinderbox’ conditions for moorland areas where the grass is deprived of moisture and sets alight with ease.