Fire crews prepare ‘heavy attack’ on massive moorland wildfire
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 today as 50 firefighters worked to contain the situation amid the ongoing heatwave. The fire initially broke out on Sunday afternoon before it reignited on Monday and has since worsened.
On Tuesday people in the Calico Crescent area of Carrbrook, in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, were advised to leave their properties as firefighters battled flames nearby.
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.
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.”
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.
Rory Hadden, Rushbrook Senior Lecturer in Fire Investigation at the University of Edinburgh, said that the hot weather means the vegetation will be very easy to ignite while the underlying peat will mean the fire can smoulder for a long time.
“The smouldering fire poses unique challenges because even though the flaming fire may appear to be out in some areas, the smouldering can continue unobserved for many hours, days or even weeks. If the conditions are correct (wind, humidity), then this fire will transition to flaming again and the process can start again.”
He added: “ “The risk to people comes mostly from the air quality issues.”
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