More than 100 firefighters battle ‘rapidly developing and aggressive’ blaze for a SEVENTH day after two wildfires merged into giant hillside inferno

More than 100 firefighters battle ‘rapidly developing and aggressive’ blaze for a SEVENTH day after two wildfires merged into giant hillside inferno

30 June 2018

Published by http://www.dailymail.co.uk/


UK – Fire crews are returning for a seventh day as a ‘rapidly developing, aggressive fire’ ravages moorland across Lancashire.

Emergency services have been desperately battling wildfires on Winter Hill, Horwich and Scout Road near Bolton for days, but declared a ‘major incident’ yesterday afternoon as they failed to keep them from spreading.

Two large-scale moorland fires merged on Saturday due to increasing wind speed and a major incident was declared as crews tackled the blaze

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said 10 crews remained on the scene overnight, but the number was increased to 22 from 4.30am this morning. Fire break trenches are also being dug to try to protect local buildings.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said on Saturday it had 28 fire engines tackling the moorland fires. There were approximately 120 personnel on the moors, split between seven areas of wildfire in Tameside and Winter Hill.

Dramatic images show the devastating extent of the damage, as thick black smoke still billows across the skyline.

Assistant chief fire officer Dave Keelan said: “This is an exceptionally challenging time and I am proud of the hard work and brave commitment of our firefighters.”

Lancashire fire service area manager Tony Cook said “very intensive firefighting” is taking place on Winter Hill, including personnel doing shuttle runs in appliances to get water to the scene while others manually try to beat the fire out.

Two hillside fires merged yesterday to create one huge inferno in the Greater Manchester countryside, while flames still ravage Saddleworth Moor 35 miles away.

The Army has been drafted in to contain flames on Saddleworth Moor, which are believed to have been caused by discarded cigarette ends.

Nobody has been reported injured in either blaze but wildlife experts have anticipated ‘a decade of damage’ and the deaths of hundreds of animals.

Burning temperatures as high as 88F (31C) have also seen multiple blazes break out across the Welsh Valleys and near Inverness in Scotland.

Emergency services have been desperately battling wildfires on Winter Hill, Horwich and Scout Road near Bolton for days, but declared a ‘major incident’ yesterday afternoon as they failed to keep them from spreading.

Greater Manchester Police said in a yesterday today: ‘A major incident has been declared as the fires on Winter Hill and Scout Road near Bolton have merged.

‘We strongly urge motorists and pedestrians to adhere to all road closure signs as they are there for your safety.’

One man has been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire on Winter Hill, an hours’ drive away from Saddleworth.

In Slochd, 20 miles from Inverness, 9,000 litres of water were used to stop flames ravaging scrubland there.

Fire crews are dealing with three separate fires on Maerdy Mountain in the Welsh Valleys, with helicopter firing water in a bid to keep them under control.

The forest fire in Rheidol Valley has been burning for three days, with another one in Kilvey Hill, Swansea.

Hot weather and wind over the last week have sparked the fires in the north west of England – unprecedented in recent times in an area better known for its rainy weather.

Wildlife experts say the inferno has caused a ‘decade of damage’ with David Hunt, an Upland Conservation Officer for the RSPB saying it couldn’t have happened ‘at a worse time’ as birds are in the middle of breeding season.

Yesterday the National Fire Chiefs Council Wildfire Group said it was considering ‘defensive burning’ to bring the Saddleworth blaze under control.

Fire chiefs have insisted they have not yet established what caused the fires in the north west countryside.

But locals are convinced bikers discarding their used cigarettes are to blame, with one farmer branding them ‘stupid, brainless idiots’.

Farmer James Crowther, 30, who farms 5,000 acres in the area posted on Facebook: ‘Well done to the stupid idiots on motorbikes, who decided to break on to private land, use it as an off road course then set fire to it afterwards.

‘No respect whatsoever and left others fighting a losing battle trying to get it out!’

Speaking to the Mirror, he added that he saw bikers there on Sunday afternoon: ‘Two hours later the land was ablaze with 20-foot flames.

‘When the fire moved on, it left behind something that looked liked a scorched desert.

‘That’s when we found fag ends ­absolutely everywhere. What sort of brainless idiot throws a fag end down in the grass on the hottest day of the year?’

The fire service has also urged people to stay away from the moor, after several people arrived wanting to help with the firefighting effort.

Lancashire Fire posted on Twitter: ‘We’re really concerned that members of the public are heading up onto the moors.

‘We really appreciate your offer to help but public safety is a priority and we ask people to stay away. Keeping windows and doors closed due to the smoke is also advised. Thank you.’


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