Following two large wildfires occurring this weekend, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident on Sunday evening at 5 pm. The recent warm and dry weather conditions coupled with the winds have created a perfect storm for wildfires to occur. These fires may take many days to extinguish and there is also the potential for similar fires to occur across the county which would require on Lancashire to ask for further support from other fire and rescue services.
The first fire broke out on Darwen moor on Saturday night just before 7 pm after a fire from a disposable barbecue spread quickly across a vast area of the moors. Firefighters have been battling the fire for over 36 hours now and they are working with multiple partners including Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, United Utilities, Lancashire Police, Community 4×4 Response and Bolton Mountain Rescue.
As of Monday morning, 10 fire engines, approximately 60 firefighters, and specialist appliances are at Darwen moor and they are expected to be there all day with the hot and dry weather conditions continuing.
Road closures are in place including Turton Road. Travelling to the scene by vehicle, bike or on foot, may block access for emergency vehicles and hamper the response.
The second fire broke out on Sunday just before 2 pm. Ten fire engines are in attendance at a fire involving a tree plantation which is at Longridge Fell on Old Clitheroe Road in Dutton, Preston. Firefighters are working with colleagues from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and using water bowsers and jets to bring the fire under control.
If you’re nearby either of these fires and affected by smoke, stay indoors and keep your windows and doors closed.
Chief Fire Officer Justin Johnston says:
“We know that the fire in Darwen was caused by a disposable barbecue and we have seen evidence of several small campfires at the fire in Darwen. These dry and warm weather conditions, combined with a strong wind, makes it so easy for fires like this to spread and they quickly burn underground in the peat and overground as well.
“We urge people to enjoy the moorlands but not light at barbecues or camp fires. They are not only putting the individuals at risk who are lighting them, but they also harm our firefighters, other people enjoying exercise on the moors and the wildlife on the moors.
“I’d like to thank all of our partners who are assisting us in fighting these fires including Lancashire Police, Greater Manchester and Cumbria fire and rescue services, United Utilities and Bolton Mountain Rescue.
“Finally, I am very proud of our firefighters and support staff here who have worked long hours and in difficult conditions.”