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Man Jailed After Causing Mile-Long Inferno With Firework Trying To Impress Girlfriend

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Man Jailed After Causing Mile-Long Inferno With Firework Trying To Impress Girlfriend

An artist has been sent to prison after starting a devastating moorlands blaze and causing £500,000 ($680,000) worth of damage - all by setting off a firework to impress his girlfriend.

More than 100 firefighters tackled the mile-long inferno after Viktor Riedly, 28, torched 285 hectares of land in an 'act of gross and crass recklessness' which has resulted in him being jailed for 12 months.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Leeds Crown Court heard how the 3D artist sparked the fire by 'experimenting' with a device he'd created for letting fireworks off remotely on 25 April last year.

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Charlotte Rimmer, prosecuting, said that embers rapidly spread across Marsden Moor, near the town of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

The flames then went on to consume precious peatland habitat and harmed wildlife, including ground-nesting birds, in a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

As the fire took hold, members of the public contacted emergency services and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) declared a major incident.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS
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It took three days to bring the blaze under control, with specialist units being called in from across the county.

Ms Rimmer said the incident cost the fire service £410,000 ($556k) and would set back the National Trust £167,000 ($226k) to repair the damage.

Riedly, of Huddersfield, West Yorks. pleaded guilty to arson and was jailed for a year.

Anastasis Tasou, mitigating, said: "He accepted full responsibility, and he is a man who has exhibited genuine remorse over his actions.

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"He is not a young hooligan. He is otherwise a respectable person. He just didn't consider that there was a risk in an area that was devoid of buildings.

"It was a relatively early part of the year, but it was unusually dry and windy. This must have contributed to the fact that the fire started."

The barrister also said his client had applied to become a volunteer for the National Trust to help repair the damage he had caused.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS
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Judge Neil Clark said the offence was too serious to impose anything other than an immediate prison sentence.

He told Riedly: "It was an act of gross and crass recklessness. This was done for no other reason than to satisfy your curiosity for what you had created.

"People have to understand that taking risks with such a vital public amenity cannot be tolerated."

After the hearing, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Scott Donegan said: “We as a service very much welcome the sentence handed out today and hope it reminds others not to start fires on our moorland.

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"This fire caused huge damage to the environment on the moor and required a large response from WYFRS.

“Fires like these are the reason we have Public Space Protection Orders banning flammable items like fireworks, barbecues and fires on moorland – they can have a devastating impact on the brilliant spaces we are lucky enough to have in West Yorkshire.”

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: News, UK News, Crime

Rebecca Shepherd
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