Police launch appeal to help catch beauty spot fire starters as emergency services tackle new moorland outbreaks

FIRE FIGHTERS have tackled a new spate of moorland fires in Saddleworth as police believe last week’s outbreaks at Yeoman Hey Reservoir were started deliberately.

The latest fires centred on remote Chew Reservoir and again at Yeoman Hey, situated off the A 635 Holmfirth Road, Greenfield.

A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Firefighters were called out to a number of moorland fires in the Saddleworth area in the early hours of the morning on Monday July 18.

“In total, eight fire engines, from across the region – as well as a Haglund Wildfire Unit – have been at Chew Reservoir, Greenfield, at various points throughout the night and morning to tackle three seats of fire on moorland.

“After being called out at 1.30am, fire crews remain at the scene and are using hose reels and beaters to control some remaining small pockets of fires.

“Three fire engines also attended a different fire at Yeoman Hey Reservoir, Greenfield just after 1am.

“Firefighters used hose reels and beaters to extinguish the fire which involved felled trees and bracken and spent half an hour at the scene. investigations into the cause of the fires will be carried out.”

Investigations into last week’s incidents at Yeoman Hey revealed traces of accelerant were found at three locations at the site.

Two other seats of fire had to tackled by up to 50 Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service crew during the blaze break outs between July 10 to 12.

Pictures thanks to ‘Fire Photos

Contrary to some reports, the fires didn’t take place off Bank Lane, close to Dovestone reservoir.

Superintendent Phillip Hutchinson, of GMP Oldham district, said: “Enquiries are ongoing to identify those responsible for starting these fires which could have had a devastating impact on the land, the wildlife and residents who live in the surrounding area.

“I ask anyone with information to share it with us as soon as possible. Maintaining safety at Saddleworth Moor is of great importance to both ourselves and our partner agencies.

“Only days before this fire, we attended an event during which we spoke with members of the public about how to use the area in the summer.

“Unfortunately, during this event, our officers sighted persons posing a risk so three fixed penalty notices were issued.

“I would like to use this opportunity to remind members of the public that there is a Public Space Protection Order in place at Saddleworth Moor – meaning it is a criminal offence to start fires in the area, including BBQs. A breach of the order can result in a £1,000 fine.

“I ask members of the public who frequent in the area and residents who live surrounding it to report anyone they suspect of planning and illegal BBQ or committing any other crime.”

Jim Wilmott, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager at Bury, Oldham and Rochdale, said: “We have seen just how devastating and damaging wildfires can be, especially in Saddleworth, in recent times.

“It’s difficult to understand why anyone would want to deliberately start a fire in moorlands.

“But sadly it does happen and when conditions are this dry, they grow quickly and easily out of control.

“For those who do think this is a good idea, you should know that not only does it destroy precious moorland, but it also puts local wildlife and people at danger, causing huge disruption and means our resources are often unable to attend other serious incidents.

“The evidence suggests that fires in Saddleworth were deliberately started. I urge people to contact Greater Manchester Police with any information you have about this so those responsible can be rightly punished.

“Our message is strong and clear – never have a barbecue or campfire in the countryside or start a fire deliberately. It’s selfish and dangerous.”

Anyone with information should contact GMP via their LiveChat facility or by calling 101.

Information can also be shared anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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