Fire ravagespeat moss

11 June 2006

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Carlisle, Cumbria, UK — Fire ravaged two square miles of peat moss near Longtown on Saturday.

Up to 50 firefighters were involved in a nine-hour battle to extinguish the blaze, close to Moss Side Farm, which is not being treated as suspicious.

Adrian Holme, group manager with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said dry and windy conditions allowed the fire to spread quickly.

He added: “We used mechanical excavators to isolate the fire and set up water relays from local streams.

“Our strategy was to surround the fire and extinguish it using hose reel jets.

“The nature of the work was very arduous and our crews had to work hard.”

The alarm was raised by staff at Humax Horticultural, the Gretna-based company that works the peat moss, around 2.30pm.

Humax employee Ian Miller said: “We saw smoke but the fire was out of hand by the time we got there. It’s the wind that drives it.”

He believes the fire was probably started by a spark from machinery or even the sun’s rays being diffracted by a piece of broken glass.

At the height of the blaze, seven fire appliances from Annan, Gretna, Longtown, Carlisle and Brampton were at the scene, plus a four-wheel-drive vehicle from Silloth.

Appliances from Lazonby and Patterdale arrived later to relieve other crews.

Firefighters did not leave until 11pm.

Moss Side Farm lies close to the Scottish border, two miles north west of Longtown and two miles north of Gretna.

Humax claims to be the oldest peat company in the world and the fourth-largest producer in the UK.

Solway Moss is its largest site, although it also takes peat from Creca Moss and Nutberry Moss in Dumfriesshire and two other sites in Scotland.


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