Battle to extinguish moorland fire resumes in Lancashire


More than 20 fire engines are at the scene of a moorland fire in Lancashire after the firefighting operation resumed at dawn.

Crews remained at Winter Hill near Bolton overnight after a "large-scale attack" was launched against the "rapidly developing, aggressive fire" on Sunday.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) said it had increased the number of fire engines at the scene from 17 to 22 as the full-scale operation began again at first light.

"These fire engines are continuing to focus on hotspots around the 8km (5mi) site," the fire service tweeted.

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A major incident was declared on Saturday after two large-scale moorland fires merged due to increasing wind speed.

Helicopters were brought in as the operation sought to douse smouldering hot spots and soak nearby woodland to avoid fire taking hold.

LFRS has been assisted at the Winter Hill blaze by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), which itself has been tackling a large-scale wildfire on Saddleworth Moor.

Paul Etches, head of prevention at GMFRS, warned the moorland fires were "not going away" and it would take "many more days of intense sweat and effort" to extinguish them.

"Our firefighters are tired but optimistic that we continue to make good progress," he said.

The fire near Stalybridge, Tameside, began on June 24 and reignited the following day before rapidly spreading.

GMFRS tweeted that it had been an "extraordinary weekend".

"The incident at Tameside rolls into a second week, while we continue to work with @LancashireFRS in Bolton," it added.

Fire brigades from across the country, including from Tyne and Wear, the South West, Nottinghamshire, Humberside and Warwickshire travelled to the North West to assist with the effort.

However they are working in hot conditions with "no significant rain forecast this week", according to Met Office forecaster Helen Roberts.

She said: "The trend is for dry and very warm weather, which is far from ideal. Thunderstorms in the South West are unlikely to reach that far north.

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"On Wednesday, there is the potential for showers in that vicinity but it could be a one-off, isolated and unlikely to hit the area."

"Thursday is similar and any showers would be isolated and fleeting. There is no significant rain forecast this week."

Meanwhile Lancashire Police said it has had to deal with "reckless and dangerous" behaviour by members of the public which is hampering emergency efforts.

Some people, determined to get shots of the fire on their mobile phones, have blocked access roads for emergency vehicles by driving to the scene, while others have been flying drones over the moorland.