Mountain rescuers mounted an overnight watch. Photo: NNPMRT

Mountain rescuers mounted an overnight watch. Photo: NNPMRT

Mountain rescue volunteers spent the night on a Northumberland hill mounting a watch for wildfires.

The vigil followed a blaze on Simonside, near Rothbury, on Easter Monday.

Members of Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team spent 18 hours supporting Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service at the scene.

A wildfire began in mid-afternoon on Monday near Joe’s Wood on the flank of the hill, rapidly spreading over the summit at Old Stell Crag and south towards Selby’s Cove.

A team spokesperson said: “The swift actions of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service with support from the local gamekeepers stopped the fire before it reached the trees in Harwood Forest.

The wildfires on Simonside. Photo: NNPMRT

The wildfires on Simonside. Photo: NNPMRT

“A flare up on Tuesday night led to further damage below Simonside and round towards the main crag.”

Team leader Iain Nixon said: “The team were asked to provide logistical support to the fire service overnight on Wednesday from 7pm through until 8 o’clock the following morning.

“We had five members strategically located to spot flare ups, spending the night on the hill. After midnight as the wind changed direction a number of ‘heat spots’ were identified and team members escorted fire service personnel onto the hill.

“The fires were then extinguished.”

In the morning the extent of the wildfire was then accurately mapped.

Firefighters tackle the Simonside blaze. Photo: NNPMRT

Firefighters tackle the Simonside blaze. Photo: NNPMRT

Mr Nixon said: “The incident was a great example of partnership working with our volunteer team members working alongside fire service crews from Rothbury, Wooler and Alnwick during the night.

“We continue to support our other emergency services through the Covid pandemic and are grateful that members of the public have continued to stay away from the hills and fells.”

The team added many of its main sources of income have temporarily dried up during the coronavirus pandemic. Collecting tins are behind closed doors and outdoor challenge events for which it provides rescue cover for have been cancelled. Donations to the team can be made via its website.

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