ARSON will not be investigated as a cause of the fire which damaged a large area of moorland.
The sky was lit up from 7.15pm on Tuesday night by flames which snaked across Marsden Moor at Pule Hill stretching to the A62 Manchester Road.
Climbers alerted fire fighters that they had seen a group of youths at the scene and suspicions will have been fuelled by the blaze taking place during the school holidays.
Investigators, however, say arson was not under consideration as no evidence had been found and the square miles of the area affected was too large to come to a definite conclusion.
Thirty-five firefighters attempted to bring the blaze under control.
The onset of darkness presented the fire service with a health and safety problem and because crews could not see where they were stepping it was decided to call them off the moor.
Instead, the focus shifted to protecting properties from a standby position.
Community warden Alison Mills said: “Wardens went out and looked at the site yesterday and the area affected was bigger than they thought it was.
“We don’t think the damage is as bad as in some previous fires because it’s mainly the top layer that has been affected.
“The birds will be affected because it means less area for breeding but over the next few weeks we should see some of it grow back.”
During the operation the fire service set up their base of operations at Motorman’s Cafe off the A62.
Co-owner Jean Hall said: “I first noticed the smoke because the fire was behind us.
“The actual flames may have been spotted quicker by the people on the other side of the valley. I saw it when it was really blazing at about 8.30pm.
“A lot of the local people have been talking about it.
“The smell of it has gone now because it rained and it has been a little damp, but you can see how black the moor is.
“I think this is the worst fire that we’ve had here but other areas nearby have been more affected in the past.”
West Yorkshire Police confirmed they were not investigating the incident.