Soldiers brought in to help with huge moorland fire between Derbyshire and Greater Manchester

Soldiers have joined firefighters to help tackle a huge moorland fire between Derbyshire and Greater Manchester.

Thursday, 28th June 2018, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 29th June 2018, 4:53 pm
Gamekeepers fight the blaze with specialist fogging units. Photo - Peak District Moorland Group

Firefighters from Derbyshire have returned to the scene on Saddleworth Moor to assist colleagues from Greater Manchester, while the Ministry of Defence has also deployed troops from 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland to help.

The troops will work closely with over 100 firefighters throughout the day to provide additional support to crews tacking the fire, which is stretched across seven miles of moorland.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said the blaze has now been contained and crews are continuing to make good progress in extinguishing the fires.

There are currently six affected areas across the moorland where firefighters and troops will be deployed to today.

GMRFS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Hunter said: "To have the support of the Armed Forces is extremely pleasing and I know that firefighters will be very appreciative of their help in tackling the multiple fires we are dealing with.

“We have not seen any indication of any rainfall, so this incident is likely to be prolonged for a number of days. The fire is contained at the moment, but we only need a change of wind direction to see the fire increase. We are working hard to keep on top of the blaze.

Gamekeepers fight the blaze with specialist fogging units. Photo - Peak District Moorland Group

“I would like to thank local residents and businesses who have been very understanding and incredibly generous in their donations to our crews. We will continue to work closely with our partners, volunteers and the Armed Forces today, and we hope to make some more good progress.”

Twelve gamekeepers from nine shooting estates in the Peak District are also working on Arnfield Moor, which is managed by RSPB and owned by United Utilities, to help tackle the blaze.

The keepers have been working continuously for three days alongside fire services, Peak District National Park wardens, National Trust wardens, RSPB wardens, farmers and other volunteers.

Richard Bailey, from the Peak District Moorland Group, said: “Gamekeepers from nine shooting estates stepped up to the plate bringing not only their experienced firefighting skills but also Argocats equipped with specialist ‘fogging’ units – which enable us to train water on the fire - on to the moor.

Gamekeeper fights the fire with his Argocat. Photo - Peak District Moorland Group

“The fire has been horrendous, and everyone has been working together flat out to get it under control. Two helicopters were on site and worked with such skill and precision dropping water onto site and filling temporary dams to keep our foggers topped up and to run hoses out for direct spraying.

“We’re extremely grateful to volunteers who came up on the moor with food and water for those tackling the fire.

“The scale of this fire is staggering, and the damage to precious wildlife and unique habitat is unimaginable. There’s lots of speculation about the cause and that is a matter for police and fire service investigation. It is simply not correct for anyone to suggest that moorland management is at the root of this. The reason that this fire burned so fiercely is the extremely dry and hot weather conditions.”

The Salvation Army has also been at the scene throughout the week, providing refreshments to those involved in fighting the fire, while many local residents and businesses have also been showing their support with donations of water and food.

Helicopter en route to douse the fire. Photo - Peak District Moorland Group
Gamekeepers and firefighters tackle the blaze. Photo - Peak District Moorland Group