A HUGE wild fire near Machynlleth is believed to have been started deliberately, police have said.

Fire Crews from both Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service tackeld a large wildfire incident at the Artists Valley/Cwm Einion near Furnace, that has been burning since Sunday afternoon.

The blaze began on Sunday at around 2.30pm, when the fire service were called to the wildfire, thought to have been caused by arson.

In all, crews from Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Llandrindod Wells, Llanfair Caereinion and Llanidloes, along with a crew from Aberdovey (North Wales Fire and Rescue Service) attended the incident, which was not extinguished until around 7.30pm yesterday (Monday).

Already, substantial fire damage has been caused to a part of the Natural Resources Wales managed Welsh Government Woodland Estate, as well as badly damaging a nationally important wildlife site. The fire is believed to have been started deliberately.

Approximately 120 hectares of grass, scrubland and forestry has been destroyed by the fire, which is now under police investigation.

Dyfed Powys Police has begun an investigation into this incident and are appealing for any information.

Sgt Marc Davies, a Police officer from Dyfed Powys Police working with the Arson Reduction Team said: “Not only do these fires pose a significant risk to the safety of our communities but we are seeing here the destruction of a nationally important wildlife site of Special Scientific Interest.

"These illegal fires are entirely avoidable and its tragic to see the destruction and harm caused to the wildlife and the environment.

“If you have any information that can help us identify those persons responsible for this fire please contact us on the details below.”

A spokesman for the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: "Firefighters fought the fire, on difficult and challenging terrain, using beaters, backpack sprayers, wildfire blowers, an otter pump and delivery hose. A helicopter was also deployed to assist the Fire Service.

"Firefighting operations ceased at 7.20pm, Monday, May 18, and the remaining seat of fire was allowed to burn to a natural fire brake."

Dyfed-Powys Police can be contacted either online at: http://bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, by email at: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. You can also give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.