Manchester Firefighters Are Now Tackling Two Major Moorland Fires

Laura O'Neill Laura O'Neill

Manchester Firefighters Are Now Tackling Two Major Moorland Fires

Fire crews from Greater Manchester have been sent to assist Lancashire crews tackling a moorland fire at Winter Hill in Bolton.

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A spokesman for Lancashire Fire service said two fire broke out at almost the same time either side of Winter Hill, Bolton on June 28 off Scout Road, and were attended by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service firefighters.

However on June 30, with both fires still burning, the wind picking up and the two fires merged together creating one bigger fire, approximately 8 km in size.

As a result, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident and instructed members of the public stay away from the moors and those people affected by the smoke keep their windows and doors shut.

The spokesman said:

“We are dealing with a rapidly developing aggressive fire across all vegetation types including woodlands. The emergency services are working together with colleagues in local authorities, public health and the Environment Agency to respond to the incident jointly. There are now 30 pumps from Lancashire and Manchester at the incident along with specialist wildfire fighting teams, a drone and mountain rescue units. A United Utilities helicopter is also in operation. These resources are attempting to protect the infrastructure on top of Winter Hill.

Members of the public should stay away from the area affected. Residents in areas affected by smoke should stay indoors, keep doors and windows closed and tune in to the local radio station and social media for advice and information.”

Fire crews are still battling to keep the moorland fire in Tameside under control.

Manchester fire service said the fire began on June 24, when crews were called to a fire on land near to Buckton Vale in Stalybridge, which they managed to extinguish within a couple of hours.

However, due to the high temperatures, the fire reignited two days later on June 26 and has since swept across the moor between Stalybridge and Dovestones, devastating plant-life and forcing residents in the Calico Crescent area of Tameside to flee their homes.

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The fire was declared a major incident on June 26, with Manchester residents being warned to keep windows and doors shut while firefighters from across Lancashire and Yorkshire worked night and day to keep the flames at bay with the help of 100 soldiers from the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland.

A fire service spokesman said crews and specialist officers are still working across the moorland in very challenging conditions. There are approximately 45 firefighters on the scene, using specialist equipment and vehicles to extinguish the remaining pockets of fire.

Firefighters are being supported by two helicopters from United Utilities, which are continuing to dampen down on targeted areas, helping to prevent further fire spread.

Police announced on July 4 that the fire is being investigated as arson.

Chief Superintendent Neil Evans, Territorial Policing Commander for Tameside, said witnesses reported people lighting a bonfire at around 7.30pm on June 24 on the moors near the Stalybridge estate and officers are currently pursuing this as a possible line of enquiry.

He said: “The moorland fire is now being investigated as arson following information from local witnesses and initial inquiries. The scale of this fire is exceptional and we are treating it with the utmost seriousness.

“That said, we are under no illusion that solid evidence as to where the fire started and what was the cause, will not be easy to establish. The areas we have been able to look include dusty ash, burnt peat and grass and, because of this, our work with the fire service will be painstaking.

“We recognise the incredible support that the emergency services have received and we now hope that the local community can help us further by getting in touch with any information that could help our investigation.

“Were you on the moors last Sunday and did you see anything that could help us understand exactly what happened If you know anything, no matter how small, it could help our investigation so please get in touch.”

Interim Chief Fire Officer, Dawn Docx said firefighters are continuing to work hard to put out the multiple fires across the Moorland.

She said: “Specialist fire investigation officers at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are working closely with Greater Manchester Police to investigate the suspected arson in the moorlands in Tameside.

“Investigations are currently ongoing with a multi-agency approach to find the source of the ignition. There is an area of interest that specialist officers are inspecting.

“Firefighters are working in extremely difficult and challenging circumstances in Tameside and I can’t praise crews enough – they’ve done a fantastic job and are continuing to work hard to put out the multiple fires across the moorlands.

“I would like to urge the public to be really careful with barbecues, discarded cigarettes and glass bottles in the countryside, fires in the moorlands can spread rapidly so it’s important that we take extra care.”

Anyone with any information should contact police on 0161 856 9353 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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