FIREFIGHTERS have called for a stop to controlled moorland burning after a major blaze, saying it is diverting them from efforts to help the fight against coronavirus.

More than 50 officers were tackling a fire on the moors above Deer Hill Reservoir, near Marsden, West Yorkshire, on Monday afternoon.

A West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said crews from 20 appliances were fighting a mile-long fire front.

He said it is believed that the fire, which was reported just before 12.30pm, started as a result of controlled burning which spread.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Nick Smith said: "We are disappointed to see what has happened today which could have so easily been avoided and we urge landowners to stop controlled burning with immediate effect.

"Controlled burning can easily spread and tackling the consequences takes up a huge amount of the Fire Service's time and resources - moorland fires can quite literally go on for miles and days.

"We are currently trying to focus our resources on supporting the national effort to respond to coronavirus and this is unhelpful to us."

Mr Smith said: "These are unprecedented times and we require our resources to support communities and help the vulnerable rather than having firefighters tied up for days on the moors undertaking this kind of arduous work.

"It is not where we want to be focusing our energies at this time, which we are sure people will understand."

Mr Smith also urged members of the public going onto the moors for some fresh air to be extra vigilant not to start a fire accidentally.

Just last week fire crews had to attend a moorland fire near Ogden Water Reservoir and controlled burning was also been seen around Bolton Abbey at the weekend.