Environment chiefs fear moor may never fully recover as blaze nears end

Environment chiefs fear moor may never fully recover as blaze nears end

14 September 2010

published by www.thisisscunthorpe.co.uk

United Kingdom — Firefighters have nearly extinguished a huge blaze that has been burning for two weeks.

The peat fire on Crowle Moor, which took hold of conservation land near Swinefleet over the August bank holiday weekend, has taken thousands of man hours to fight.

At its worst, eight fire engines, a mobile command centre and more than 30 firefighters were in attendance.

The land is owned by environmental group Natural England and bosses are concerned the fire could scar the face of the land forever.

Kevin Bull, senior reserve manager for Natural England, said: “We’ve certainly got the fire sorted out now.

“If the wind could drop a little bit and we have rain, it should be completely out by the end of the week.

“There’s just sporadic little peaks showing every so often – we’ve done two this morning.”

As reported, the blaze is a difficult fire to fight as heat is sucked underground.

Fire chiefs say that although the fire may appear extinguished on the surface, it may still be burning deep down and small fires can flare up again.

Thanks to the mammoth efforts to fight the fire, most of the peat has escaped relatively unscathed, with only the top centimetre damaged.

However, some damage is base-deep – and could be 50 centimetres deep.

“I would think in two to three years’ time it will recover, apart from the deep burns,” said Mr Bull.

“The green shoots are already there for some cotton grass.

“But the deeper levels could take decades to heal and where there were deep burns, it will never be the same.”

The fire was contained within a 140-acre area and that limited the damage.

Long water trenches were dug to prevent it spreading further, while more than half a kilometre of hosepipe was put down to combat the fire.

“If it had got to other areas we would have had a major problem,” said Mr Bull.

“We were doing 14-hour days to fight it.

“The fire brigade alone put in a mega amount of hours and we had six contractors – we were stretched.

“It’s been a real challenge and we have to learn from this to make sure we can put even better measures in place.”

Those involved are now looking to increase the amount of water kept on site and ensure it can be easily moved to where it is needed.

Thankfully the base layer of the peat had recently been re-wetted and it is understood this stopped further deep burning.

Most wildlife on site was unharmed.

Nightjar birds fled, no adder corpses have been found and snakes are now back in the burnt areas.

It is thought only insects and invertebrates have been hit.

Natural England bosses have offered their thanks to Humberside Fire And Rescue and local farmers who helped fight the fire.

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