Firefighters in action during the blaze on Simonside. Photo: NNPMRT

Firefighters in action during the blaze on Simonside. Photo: NNPMRT

Mountain rescuers helping firefighters tackle a moorland blaze in Northumberland had to turn back a large group of walkers who were heading towards the area.

Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team was supporting crews fighting a wildfire on Simonside for the second time in a week.

During the operation team members encountered the walkers, who had travelled to the national park, and asked them to retrace their steps away from the danger area.

Volunteers from the team spent eight hours on the hillside helping Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service crews who were tackling wildfires. The Simonside Hills first suffered moorland blazes on Easter Monday and these recurred this week.

A team spokesperson said: “The wildfire on Simonside unfortunately flared up again on late Monday morning.

“One of the team’s duty controllers, who is also a volunteer wildfire support officer, happened to be in the area while on a walk from home. As first on scene he liaised with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service’s control room to update them on the situation.”

Team leader for Northumberland national park team, Iain Nixon, said; “Fire crews from Rothbury, Alnwick and Amble dealt with the fire with help from the local gamekeepers, estate staff from across north Northumberland and Forestry England. A true joint effort once again.

The wildfire on Simonside was the second in a week. Photo: NNPMRT

The wildfire on Simonside was the second in a week. Photo: NNPMRT

“Throughout the day we provided logistical support to the fire crews on the ground, spotting flare-ups and looking out for members of the public. In addition to this, one of our team members had to intercept a large group of walkers on Old Stell Crag just to the North of the wildfire.

“They had travelled to the area, from outside the national park, to climb Simonside and were politely asked to retrace their route back to their car for their own safety. Had they continued, they would have put themselves in a very dangerous situation.

“We would like to remind people not to travel to Northumberland national park at this time for outdoor recreation and instead to exercise locally and observe the social distancing requirements. The hills will be here for all to enjoy after the pandemic.”

The team said it was keen to remind people that restrictions have not been lifted and travelling to the hills from outside the area would not be considered essential, especially when people have local areas that they can exercise in.

The spokesperson said: “The incident lasted just over eight hours with the team on standby to assist during the night, just in case the fire flared up again, fortunately it didn’t.”

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