A RAPID response by gamekeepers to tackle a wildfire in the Peak District has saved an important Moorland Restoration Project.

The fire broke out on the edge of Woodhead Moor in Derbyshire on Thursday afternoon, endangering local wildlife and heather moorland, in what was a suspected arson attack.

Twenty nine gamekeepers and staff from 11 local estates were on the scene within minutes and joined forces with fire services to tackle the blaze, preventing a potential environmental tragedy.

It is believed that the fire was started by people smoking shisha pipes and three separate ignition points were discovered.

Gamekeeper Richard Bailey of the Peak District Moorland Group, said: “That this occurred on one of the most significant moorland restoration projects in the country was deeply concerning. Were it not for the expertise, equipment and proximity of trained gamekeepers, assisted by the local fire service department, this could have been absolutely devastating.”

Director of the Moorland Association, Amanda Anderson, added: “Yet again we have seen the expertise of gamekeepers prevent really tragic consequences for important wildlife and habitat. It is vitally important that we continue to have that expertise on hand in the countryside which helps not only control but prevent wildfires.”