A TEAM of 30 firefighters from across the county are tackling a huge blaze on moorland above Darwen.

Crews from Blackburn, Accrington, Bamber Bridge and Darwen were called to the fire at around 11.15am today.

The size of the grass and peatland alight was estimated to be around two square miles, a spokesman for the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said.

The firefighters met in Bury Fold Lane before heading up to tackle the blaze with beaters and large backpacks containing water.

The Bay Search and Rescue team was also on the moors to help.

Fire service spokesman John Taylor said: "Three fire engines were sent as the initial response and then another three were sent.

"On moorland, when you get rain it's still quite dry because it drains so efficiently.

"It's on a slope and the water rapidly disappears.

"Then the surface heats up because of the warm weather, and just a few days of warm weather is enough for it to ignite. 

"It does not need to be scorching."

Alan Wright from Lancashire Wildlife Trust said the fire will have had a 'devastating effect' on animals and birds on the moorland.

He said: "At this time of year, the fire will have had a massive impact on birds that are nesting up there.

"Some of them may even have laid eggs.

"We have really iconic moorland birds like the black cap curlew and skylarks, and we have grouse, birds of prey.

"And it's an important area for deer and vole and other smaller creatures too.

"Animals and birds do die in fires like this."

Although the fire service said it was still too early to say how the fire started, Mr Wright called for walkers and visitors to the moor to be extra careful and respectful.

He said: "People should not be selfish. They should think about wildlife and other people.

"Not as many people smoke today as they used to but they should be careful about throwing cigarettes and we definitely don't want people to do it on purpose, with vandalism and arson a problem we have got in Lancashire."