Firefighters tackle new moorland blazes

FIREFIGHTERS tackled a series of moorland blazes in Saddleworth on Monday (Feb 25), less than a fortnight after taking part in training exercises set up in the wake of last summer’s enormous fires, the worst for a generation.

Dave Swallow, station manager at Stalybridge and Mossley, explained the blazes were brought about by the unusually dry spell.

He said: “We don’t usually get the first fires of the year until the end of March or early April.

“The moors are flammable until the new vegetation grows, but in February it is usually a lot wetter and you would struggle to light it.”

Dave added the recent training exercises, held over two days, held the firefighters in good stead.

“The crews gained valuable experience to stop fires spreading and used it to fight these blazes,” he explained.

Firefighters had to deal with three separate blazes on Monday with the largest at Ashway Moss which is above Dovestone Reservoir and which covered one and a half square kilometres.

Later they were called to a smaller one in the valley next to Greenfield Reservoir.

Dave explained four engines and two wildfire units tackled the Ashway Moss blaze and a further two appliances the one by the reservoir. In total 45 firefighters were involved.

The blaze later that evening above Diggle covered an area of 100m by 100m and was attended by an appliance from Manchester and two from West Yorkshire.

All three of the fires are under investigation to determine the causes.

They followed another sizeable blaze above Stalybridge on Hobson Moor on Sunday, February 17 when an area measuring two square kilometres was destroyed.

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