Major incident declared as Winter Hill and Scout Road wildfires converge

Firefighters make ‘tactical withdrawal’ while helicopters and drones assess blaze

Sunday 01 July 2018 19:16
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Major incident declared as Winter Hill and Scout Road wildfires converge

A wildfire that has been burning since Thursday on Winter Hill in Lancashire is now being treated as a ‘major incident’ after it converged with another wildfire on nearby Scout Road near Bolton.

More than 80 firefighters from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service who have been fighting the blaze over the past three days made a tactical withdrawal from the site on Saturday afternoon.

They were not allowed up onto the moor while helicopters and drones assessed the site.

However, some firefighters from the Greater Manchester Fire Service continued to fight the blaze on Scout Moor.

Lancashire Fire tweeted on Saturday morning: “The fire on Winter Hill has now merged with the fire @manchesterfire were fighting on Scout Moor.

“We still have 10 fire engines and the fire engines from Manchester at the scene. We advise members of the public to keep clear of the areas for their own safety.”

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has said it was in discussions with the Ministry of Defence to help control the blaze, and said officers were concerned members of the public were heading up to the moors.

A 22-year-old man from Bolton was arrested on suspicion of starting the Winter Hill fire.

Meanwhile, on Saddleworth Moor the military plans to stay in place until at least Monday to help firefighters from Greater Manchester Fire Service tackle the blaze.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it had 28 fire engines tackling the moorland fires. There are about 120 officers on the moors, split between seven areas of wildfire in Tameside and Winter Hill, Bolton.

Assistant chief fire officer Dave Keelan said: “This is an exceptionally challenging time and I am proud of the hard work and brave commitment of our firefighters.”

Lancashire fire service area manager Tony Cook said “very intensive firefighting” is taking place on Winter Hill, including personnel doing shuttle runs in appliances to get water to the scene while others manually try to beat the fire out.

Fire break trenches are also being dug to try and protect local buildings.

Saddleworth Moor fire rages in timelapse video

He told Rock FM News the blaze is now considered “a major fire with substantial consequences”, adding: “For us, one of the major issues is the strategic infrastructure of Winter Hill radio mast, so we need to protect them.”

Scout Road, Belmont Road, Smithills Dean Road, Longshore Ford Road, Walker Fold Road at the junction with Chorley Old Road and Georges Lane at the junction with Matchmoor Lane are among the roads which have been closed.

Marklands Road at the junction with Georges Lane, Old Rake at the junction with Georges Lane plus Belmont Road at the junction with Rivington Terraced Gardens have also been shut.

Additional reporting by PA

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