Soldiers, RAF helicopter from Hampshire and 55 firefighters tackle four-mile moorland blaze

ABOUT 100 soldiers and an RAF Chinook helicopter have been called to help tackle a moorland blaze spanning nearly four miles.

Thursday, 28th June 2018, 8:38 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:50 pm
A helicopter drops water as firefighters tackle the wildfire on Saddleworth Moor. PICTURE: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The troops from the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, were sent to Greater Manchester overnight to join firefighters across Tameside, on the edge of Saddleworth Moor.

Some 55 firefighters were still trying to quell multiple pockets of flames spanning up to 3.7 miles (6km) on Wednesday night.

The soldiers were heading from their barracks in Catterick to operate out of an army training centre to control the fire, by managing water lines and fire beating, among other means of support.

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Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said it is a display of British troops protecting the UK ‘no matter the time, no matter the place, and no matter the problem’.

The troops were answering a call for assistance from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).

The Chinook, will fly from RAF Odiham, Hampshire, this morning, and will move high-volume pump equipment by air to help douse the flames in difficult to access areas.

Dave Keelan, director of emergency response at GMFRS, had also suggested it could be used to transport firefighters.

He said firefighters were working ‘extremely hard in really hot conditions’ but morale was high, adding: ‘It’s more of a task to get them down here to rest.’

Problems faced included frequent changes in wind direction, the peat-embedded terrain which requires large quantities of water to extinguish flames and the searing temperatures.

As of Wednesday lunchtime there were seven separate fire incidents ongoing on areas of the moors, including Calico Crescent, Intake Cottage, Intake Lane, Caste Farm, Dovestones, Higher Swineshaw and Chew Road.

Firefighters used beaters and specialist wildfire equipment to tackle the flames.

In addition, Greater Manchester Police deployed a helicopter to assess the scene and United Utilities provided a helicopter that can be used to drop water on to remote areas.

The blaze had been brought under control having started on Sunday, but it reignited the next day and has continued in one of the worst moorland fires to hit the region.

The impact could even be seen from space as Nasa satellites picked up the plumes of smoke.

Some 34 households were evacuated in Calico Crescent in the village of Carrbrook, Stalybridge, on Tuesday night but residents were allowed to return after air quality assessments.

A number of schools were also closed.