North Yorkshire firefighters were called to four trackside fires last night (Thursday), caused by sparks from steam engines.
As a result, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway has decided to withdraw all its steam engines from service.
The first call out was at 6.01pm at Esk Valley, Grosmont. Residents had put out the fire before the brigade arrived.
Minutes later, at 6.09pm, crews were back at a trackside fire at Beck Hole, Goathland. They used an off road vehicle called an Argocat to help put out the fire.
At 6.20pm another line side fire measuring 35m x 2m was reported at Moorgates, Goathland. Locals put this one out.
Then, at 8.33pm at Goathland, crews extinguished a fire involving an area of line-side scrubland measuring 15m x 5m.
‘We apologise to those impacted’
In response to the incidents, the railway’s chief executive Chris Price said they had kept the steam trains running to sustain the viability of the NYMR.
“In these unprecedented times the NYMR is trying to keep its business open to protect livelihoods, and its very existence post Covid,” he said.
“There is no doubt that we are considerably less sustainable running our trains with diesel locomotives.
“A decision was made following the recent rain to try and run a limited steam service to meet the wants of our customers whilst mitigating the risk by employing a third-party fire service company to patrol the most vulnerable areas of our line-side.
“We apologise to those impacted and have today made the decision to totally remove steam from our timetable until further notice.
“The heritage railway is doing everything it can to fully cooperate with the emergency services, taking every precaution to ensure the safety of both staff and passengers, which is always our priority.
“We would like to thank the North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service and our local gamekeepers for all their assistance.”