ARRESTS have been made after a major fire took hold on Ilkley Moor, police have confirmed.

Firefighters remain at the scene today and a helicopter is being used to drop water on to the moor, where about 250,000 square metres of moorland has been on fire.

The blaze has affected an area from White Wells through to Backstone Beck and from the Rocky Valley down to the Tarn.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said its appliances from Grassington and its 'Argocat' -all terrain vehicle - from Skipton had assisted West Yorkshire Fire Brigade with the fire overnight.

Speaking to the BBC, Martin Langan, group manager at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "Lunchtime will be our critical period because that’s the hottest part of the day and right up until that point we’re watching to see if there’s any further outbreaks of fire.

“At this moment, I can confirm that it’s mainly smoke and heated debris that’s blowing around, but we’re looking out for further scenes of fire in the area.”

He added:“It is early in the year, but obviously we’ve had quite a short but pleasant spell of hot weather, so that, with the combination of members of the public going out and enjoying their Easter break, it’s probably contributed to a fire earlier than normal.

He warned people: “Please stay away from the area for now. We’re obviously going to be here for the majority of today and possibly into the evening.

“From a safety point of view, you’re just better off staying away and viewing this from afar because we’ve got an ongoing operation and we’re likely to be here for some time.”

Owen Wells, chairman of the Friends of Ilkley Moor group, said: "The Friends of Ilkley Moor can only express their appreciation to the members of the emergency services who have now brought this fire under control.

"It is probable that the danger of the fire restarting will probably remain until the rainy weather that is forecast for later this week."