Saddleworth Moor fire: ‘Heavy attack’ planned to combat unprecedented blaze
A major incident was declared and the Army remains on standby.
Fire crews will launch a “heavy attack” to combat a vast moorland blaze which led to the evacuation of a number of homes.
Pockets of fire continue to burn across a six-kilometre area of Saddleworth Moor on Wednesday as 50 firefighters work in “tremendously difficult conditions” to contain the situation amid the ongoing heatwave.
Among the affected areas is the village of Carrbrook, in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, where 34 households in the Calico Crescent area were evacuated on Tuesday night as a precaution when strong winds pushed flames near their properties.
A major incident was declared and the Army remains on standby as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) put in a plan of action to douse the fire which initially broke out on Sunday afternoon before it reignited the following day and has since worsened.
Leon Parkes, GMFRS assistant chief fire officer, said: “Fire crews have been working in tremendously difficult conditions in the heat and smoke.
“We are doing an assessment on the scene this morning and then we will be putting a plan of attack together for the rest of the day.
“We’ve got over six kilometres of affected area – there is fire occurring in pockets around the outskirts. So we have got a belt of fire and obviously the wind direction at the time will have an affect on that.
Homes in the Calico Crescent area of Tameside are now being evacuated due to their close proximity to the Moorland Fires.— G M Police (@gmpolice) June 26, 2018
Anyone who has requires a safe place to go should contact Tameside Council on 0161 342 2222.@TamesideCouncil @tmbc_places
“The seats of fire are not where we can access. We are having to park fire engines up and some of the fire scenes are two miles away so we are having to use other vehicles supplied by our partner agencies to transport firefighters and kit into those areas.
“The plan today is to try and really, really put some resource on the scene and put a heavy attack on this fire, and if that needs military assistance then that’s what we’ll consider.”
Mr Parkes added: “This fire is particularly large. We’ve got lots of experience with dealing with moor fires but this particular incident is vast – it’s presented some real challenges to the fire and rescue service in terms of our access, the conditions for firefighters that they have been working in and obviously the wind encourages the fire to spread.
“We have been dealing with an escalating incident and we are trying to get on top of it now.”
In Carrbrook, the morning sun struggled to break through with smoke still hanging thick in the air and ash floating to the ground.
Paula Tootell, who lives in Calico Crescent, said her neighbours were evacuated while she was told by police to keep her windows and doors shut and stay inside until they were told to move out as the flames raged nearby.
Ms Tootell said: “The hills were on fire, it came closer and closer to the properties. Lots of fire engines arrived, we were told that they were putting pipes all around the estate for safety really.
“Houses across the road and further in, nearer to the fields, were evacuated and we were told to be on alert.
“We could see lots of flames on the hills and the whole of the hills was just red. It was bizarre, and so much smoke, you couldn’t see in front of your face at some points.
“The whole of the hill was just on flame, like a bid red ring around the hills. You could see flames literally along the whole of the hill.”
Huge thanks to the GM firefighters working flat out to contain this worrying situation. If you live in the area, please follow the advice. https://t.co/3Bc1FSLDLl— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) June 26, 2018
It is thought that affected residents stayed with family and friends last night, although accommodation assistance was offered by Tameside Council.
On Facebook, Greater Manchester Police’s Saddleworth division posted that an estimated 2,000 acres of moorland had been destroyed in the fire which had spread as far as Tintwistle in Derbyshire.
Some 65,000 gallons of water had been dropped by helicopter by Tuesday afternoon to fight the fire which was “unprecedented in recent times and has been devastating to the moorland and the wildlife that live there”, it added.
The exact cause of the blaze has not been established, said the fire service.