A fire raging in northern England has prompted the evacuation of dozens of homes and forced firefighters to work in “tremendously difficult conditions”.
Dozens of firefighters are currently fighting the inferno, which has now been declared a major incident, with the emergency services issuing advice for people affected by it.
The fire is sweeping across the Saddleworth Moor, a hilly area that rises up to 1,312 feet northeast of Manchester. The blaze has already destroyed 2,000 acres of moorland,
The Army was on Wednesday afternoon drafted in as 100 firefighters from two forces tackled the blaze, which has now been declared a major incident, with the emergency services issuing advice for people affected by it.
The fire which may have started when sparks from off-road motorcycles set light to the grass. Crews were tackling four separate fronts of fire in an area covering more than three miles.
On Tuesday night, 34 households were evacuated in the Calico Crescent area, to the west of the moorland.
“This fire is particularly large. We’ve got lots of experience with dealing with moor fires but this particular incident is vast,” said Leon Parker, the assistant chief fire officer for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).
The fire, which began on June 24, was initially suppressed, but an ongoing heatwave in Britain helped reignite the blaze the next day. There are currently 100 firefighters working to contain the blaze, which is now 6 kilometers wide.
Around 65,000 gallons of water have already been dropped on the fire, as firefighters worked through the night on Tuesday to contain the flames.
“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,” said Parker at a press conference on Wednesday.
The GMFRS said the fire is “unprecedented in recent times and has been devastating to the moorland and the wildlife that live there”, according to the UK Press Association.
On Wednesday morning, the sun struggled to penetrate the dense clouds of smoke wreathing the surrounding towns, and ash could be seen falling to the ground.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service group manager for Tameside, Phil Nelson, said: “Crews are still tackling this difficult fire and are working hard to contain the blaze and prevent further fire spread.
“Firefighters are faced with very difficult circumstances, intense heat and are working on challenging terrain. Our main considerations are for crew welfare. It is physically draining working at this incident and it is vital that our firefighters have regular breaks and that relief crews are available to take over.
Derbyshire firefighters were earlier seen tackling the same blaze by beating down moorland in footage released by the fire service. The force described it as “hard, hot & exhausting work”, and warned people to be careful while enjoying the outdoors.
They said: “Take extra care when out in the countryside – a stray cigarette, a discarded glass bottle, or a spark from a BBQ can all cause untold devastation!