Flames 'were leaping 20 feet high' as blaze raged across moor


Residents have described flames leaping 20 feet in the air as firefighters continue to tackle a vast blaze on Saddleworth Moor.

Chris Keytes and his wife Jane live in a farmhouse on the side of a still smouldering hill above houses evacuated in Carrbrook, Greater Manchester, on Tuesday night.

Mr Keytes said he got home from work at 6pm and once the fire was over the crest of the hill he called the fire service out.

Saddleworth Moor fire
Saddleworth Moor fire

Three fire engines climbed the lane to the farmhouse to get water on the flames, just metres from the back of his home.

He said: "By that time the flames must have been leaping 20 feet high, but the problem is the wind direction is constantly changing. My problem was I have got dry brushwood here I haven't shifted, a broken-down tractor here with a tank of diesel, so that was my main problem and it was a bit hot at times.

"It's just smoke and heat, when you are just stood out here when the fire crews are here. They have got hoses but the heat was that intense when they spray the hoses on, it just evaporates to steam anyhow.

Saddleworth Moor fire locater map
Saddleworth Moor fire locater map

"So what they do is they damp the bracken down before the fire gets there with the hope of it petering out.

"Which it has done but it's just one of those things, it's hard terrain, especially in the dark, you can't see where you are going. There's potholes, fences, walls. It's hard work."

Mr Keytes said he decided not to leave his home and dog when asked to evacuate the property on Tuesday night.

He added: "We were asked to but I'd rather just stick it out, we had breathing gear here.

Saddleworth Moor fire residents
Saddleworth Moor fire residents

"I was in and out all night. Obviously I couldn't sleep and I said to the wife, 'I think the worst is over', then the lights went out. We were without power all night then.

"This morning I've come down, and there are still pockets of flames flaring up. I'm just rigging a pump up now to damp down on that. We've got natural breaks that go all the way round, but it's just one of those things, you live with it, you just have to be on the ball when it comes.

"It was just the vast area, right over from Dovestones, right from Saddleworth over to here. All the lot's gone up so it's just stretching the fire crews really.

"The wind's changed again and it has started to smog up again and it's going to constantly do that."

Peter and Sue McDowell
Peter and Sue McDowell

Sue McDowell and her husband Peter had to grab a few possessions and their beloved West Highland terriers and pet cat, after being told by police and the fire service to evacuate their home in Calico Close, Carrbrook.

Mrs McDowell said: "The flames were getting closer and closer and the smoke got thicker - you couldn't see anything, you could hear the sparks.

"Around 9pm fire engines and police all turned up. We just grabbed whatever we and could got out. It was scary."

The couple took their dogs, Alfie, 12, and Daisy, two, along with their 16-year-old cat, Mog, and some pet food, and left their home as neighbours also fled the street.

The support for our firefighters has been unbelievable and testament to the Greater Manchester spirit! If anyone else wants to donate please drop supplies off at Oldham HQ, next to Chadderton Station, we'll then take it up to the firefighters working in these difficult conditions

-- Manchester Fire (@manchesterfire) June 27, 2018

They spent the night in their motor home on a friend's driveway before returning on Wednesday morning.

Mrs McDowell added: "You couldn't see anything, you couldn't see flames, all you could see was the smoke.

"They said we could come back but to be prepared in case it starts off again."

Pete Woodward, whose home backs on to the hills just 22 yards (20m) away, spent the night at his brother's home nearby after being evacuated on Tuesday evening.

Mr Woodward said: "I got back to the house last night to a towering inferno behind, very apocalyptic in view, and it was quite scary but exciting at the same time.

"The fire brigade were saying 'You probably need to get your stuff and go', so it was literally, it was get hold of a bag for overnight and leave, get the cat in the car then get out of there."

"I'm glad it's over - well, hopefully it's over."

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