The Roaches: Moorland fire 'devastating' for wildlife

Image source, Alsager Fire Station
Image caption,
The Roaches fire has spread to cover 219 acres (0.8 sq km) since Thursday

Wildlife workers have said little can be done to rescue wildlife after a fire broke out on a moorland nature reserve.

Firefighters have been at the blaze at the Roaches, in Upper Hulme, Staffordshire, since it began on Thursday.

Jon Rowe, from Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said the fire would be "devastating" for wildlife.

He said the charity had noticed a lot of animal displacement and the fire would cause a "huge loss of habitat".

Strong winds meant the fire spread quickly and is estimated to have affected a 219-acre (0.8 sq km) area - roughly a quarter or the reserve.

Media caption,
Drone footage reveals scale of fire at beauty spot

Recent rainfall has helped "dull the fire down a bit" but the underground peat is still burning, meaning flames cannot be seen from the surface, Mr Rowe said.

Dermot Hogan, from Staffordshire Fire Service, said: "While the rain over the weekend was of some help it cannot extinguish the fire.

"The peat underneath continues to smoulder, meaning there is the potential for it to reignite."

The fire service said it would remain at the site "for some time, as there is so much land to cover".

Image source, Alsager Fire Station
Image caption,
Three fire services have been working together to tackle the fire
Image source, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue
Image caption,
Fire crews are continuing to urge people to avoid the area

"Fortunately the majority of the birds were not sat on eggs, but some fledglings may well have been caught up in the fire," Mr Rowe said.

Other slower moving wildlife, particularly lizards, may also have perished, he added.

The trust will fully assess the damage once the fire is extinguished, but Mr Rowe predicts the landscape and wildlife will take a long time to recover.

Residents who were evacuated from their homes due to the smoke have been allowed to return, but some roads remain closed and walkers are asked to stay away from the area.

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