WARNINGS have been given to people about using disposable BBQs in the countryside.

A disposable BBQ on Darwen Moor last year sparked a wildfire that was out of control in seconds and raged for days, laying waste to hundreds acres of countryside and killing globally threatened species.

Already this year, wardens and landowners are finding evidence of BBQs across the fragile Pennine moorlands and say people are taking risks with their lives, the environment and possibly their liberty.

Despite being unintentional, the Darwen fire landed two men facing court. Both recently started reparation work on damaged moorland to help the recovery effort and help spread the word about the danger.

A video, countryside signs and social media advertising are being used to show the devastation the fire caused and areas which could take a generation to recover.

Landowner United Utilities’ catchment manager Matt Upton, who helped organise support for the firefighting effort using helicopters and bowsers to bring additional water to the site, said many people used BBQs without understanding the risks.

“Last year’s fire was exhausting and shocking to see. From United Utilities’ perspective we have invested a lot of time, money and effort improving the moors, as have the other landowners who were affected. One of the biggest fears was that it’s public open space and there could have been a risk to life as well,” said Matt.

“The moors are recovering but as we approach the drier weather again there’s always the risk this could happen again. They clearly didn’t intend to do any harm, but it still happened.

“We find spent BBQs evidence of fires every year. People do not realise the risk they’re taking. Our advice is never to light fires. The conditions up here are totally different and you’re a long way from help. Come and enjoy the countryside but respect it and leave it as you would want to find it.”