A LARGE fire which devastated a huge swathe of Calderdale moorland may have been started deliberately.
The fire on Thursday,February 9, came to within half a mile of the landmark Blue Ball pub and had to be tackled by 50 firefighters.
The fire started at about 3.30pm off Blue Ball Road at its junction with the A58 Rochdale Road near Ripponden.
The damaged hillside is on the opposite side of the A58 to Baitings reservoir.
A police spokesman said: "Officers are keeping an open mind regarding this incident, but as the area has been subject to illegal fires previously they are appealing for any information."
The fires have been ignited within designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest managed by English Nature. They also form part of Yorkshire Water's drinking reservoir catchments.
There is also a danger that fast- moving moorland fires could put walkers' lives at risk.
Police, Yorkshire Water and English Nature are increasing patrols in the area to deter and catch those responsible for lighting moorland fires.
Anyone found responsible for lighting a fire at a Site of Special Scientific Interest could be fined up to £20,000.
They could also face criminal damage charges.
Contact police on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.