AN eye-witness to the Marsden Moor blaze has described seeing a “wall of fire” moving across the burning moorland close to his property.
But Joseph Brigstock says he was always confident fire fighters could control the widespread inferno before it reached his house and animal shelters.
Crews from West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester tackled the fires that broke out on Tuesday night, February 26, along the A62 from Saddleworth towards Marsden.
Firemen were still at the scene the following day damping down and ensuring there were no fresh outbreaks.
“I had just put my children to bed and went outside to shut my chickens in because we had had a fox attack the night before,” Joseph told the Independent.
“As I walked out I saw this big orange patch across to the west coming from Standedge.
“We get a few fires up here so I noted it and thought ‘That’s a bit close’ but didn’t really feel too worried.
“I came out about 20 minutes later though and it was like a wall of fire that had spread right across the moor.
“The irrational part of you can see these enormous balls of flames moving towards your property.
“But the rational part thinks it takes a lot to go down some of these steep hills, cross streams and come up the other side.
“The fire brigade did a great job especially at one house which was in most danger.
“I watched them battle the flames for nearly an hour round that property.
“But that was really the only moment when I thought this could be serious and they can’t get on top of it.
“The rest of the time I was quite calm because we do get fires up here
“I also knew where the hosepipe was and thought if it does get across and come closer to the house I am confident before it reached any of my animal shelters I could get it under control.
“I eventually went to bed about 3am but even then kept an eye open to make sure nothing was changing.”
Joseph’s herd of alpacas also spent an anxious night before calm was restored.
“Luckily because the smoke was going straight up and going further away the air remained reasonably good. Mind you, I did have a splitting headache next day.
“However, the fire was so bright that it distressed the animals. They were a bit jumpy and unsure of what was going on.
“Once it passed though they all settled down. I think the potential for them to panic was more of a danger.”
Joseph is keeping an open mind on how the fires said but admitted: “I wouldn’t have thought it was accidental.
“It takes a lot to start a fire like that up here and don’t think a loose cigarette would cause what happened.”