Saddleworth Moor ravaged by huge fire

Homes evacuated as the blaze continues to spread across moorland in north-west England, news reports confirm

STALYBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Fire officers continue to fight a large wildfire on the moors above Stalybridge, Greater Manchester on June 27, 2018 in Stalybridge, England.  Firefighters have declared a 'major incident' as they battle the huge moorland fire which measures 6km. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Today, firefighters are hoping to launch a “heavy attack” on the moorland fire that has been raging since Sunday, according to the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

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The blaze has now spread through more than 6km of Saddleworth Moor on the edge of the Peak District National Park, prompting firefighters to evacuate more than 50 homes in the area of Carrbrook in Stalybridge on Tuesday night.

Residents described the scenes as “horrendous”, with “flames fifty feet high on the hillside”. 

STALYBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JUNE 26:  Fire officers check residents on Calico Close in Carrbrrok where residents have been evacuated due to the large wildfire sweeping across the moors between Dovestones and Buckton Vale in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester on June 26, 2018 in Stalybridge, England.  (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Homes were evacuated on Tuesday (26 June) night © Getty

Weather conditions are worsening the situation. According to Tameside Council leader Brenda Warrington, the land is “dry as a tinder box”, with “a lot of winds fanning the fire”.

While firefighters are working their hardest to control the major incident, assistant chief fire officer Leon Parkes has said that the “challenges are enormous” due to the size of the area and thick smoke.

Parkes said there are plans for a reinforced attack on the blaze today, stating: “if that needs military assistance, that’s what we’ll consider”. Talks with the Army are currently ongoing. 

He also said that the cause of the fire is not yet known. 

STALYBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Fire officers continue to fight a large wildfire on the moors above Stalybridge, Greater Manchester on June 27, 2018 in Stalybridge, England.  (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Firefighters battle with heavy smoke © Getty

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, released a statement of support for the firefighters: 

Huge thanks to the GM firefighters working flat out to contain this worrying situation. If you live in the area, please follow the advice.”

Public Health England advised local residents to stay in their homes with doors and windows closed, and for those affected by smoke to “wash your face with soap and water and keep hydrated by drinking water”. 

STALYBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: The full moon rises behind burning moorland as a large wildfire sweeps across the moors between Dovestones and Buckton Vale in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester on June 26, 2018 in Stalybridge, England.  (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
The fire continued to spread on Tuesday night © Getty

Locals are not the only ones affected by the fire. Saddleworth Moor is part of the Pennine hills, approximately 15 miles from Manchester, and is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to its importance as a breeding ground for several bird species. Some of these, including the merlin and curlew, are on the Red List for conservation status, meaning the fire could prove detrimental to the species. 

Find out more about the fire here.

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Main image © Getty