Soldiers have been sent to assist firefighters battling a seven-mile blaze near Saddleworth Moor.
The troops have joined more than 100 firefighters tackling the blaze, which has been raging for more than five days and has engulfed Manchester in a blanket of smoke.
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.
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.
The following day, the Ministry of Defence announced that they would be sending 100 soldiers from 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland to aid firefighters and had made an RAF Chinook helicopter available.
The troops were deployed overnight and have been working with fire crews to control and reduce the fire by assisting with the management of water lines and fire beating as well as providing general support where required.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“I pay tribute to our Armed Forces’ professionalism, dedication and sense of duty. They are proving once again that Britain can always depend on our troops to protect us no matter the time, no matter the place, and no matter the problem.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tony Hunter said there had been a ‘significant improvement’ in the situation thanks to the joint effort by soldiers and fire crews. He said the fire is being tackled from six locations using a number of resources including helicopters, which are being used to drop water on the flames.
He said: “The fire covers an area of around seven square miles and thanks to the efforts of crews and Army support there has been a significant improvement in the situation since yesterday.
Original tweet: Manchester Fire
Some of the crews that were at the scene for 12 or 13 hours yesterday are there again today and the Army is assisting with the capacity to tackle the fire and also ensuring firefighters are available to attend other incidents in Greater Manchester.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Hunter said he was pleased to have the support of the armed forces, but predicted the fire will continue to burn until rain arrives.
“To have the support of the Armed Forces is extremely pleasing and I know that firefighters will be very appreciative of their help in tackling the multiple fires we are dealing with.
“The RAF Chinook helicopter has been provided to us and is available as a resource if we need it. We will revise our tactical plan and assess the fires across the moorlands to see if and when it is appropriate to be used.
“We have not seen any indication of any rainfall, so this incident is likely to be prolonged for a number of days. The fire is contained at the moment, but we only need a change of wind direction to see the fire increase. We are working hard to keep on top of the blaze.
“I would like to thank local residents and businesses who have been very understanding and incredibly generous in their donations to our crews. We will continue to work closely with our partners, volunteers and the Armed Forces today, and we hope to make some more good progress.”