Firefighters from Greater Manchester and Lancashire are calling on people to do their bit to help protect our moorlands and reduce the risk of wildfires breaking out.
Both Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) have dealt with significant moorland fires in recent weeks and the two services often work together to tackle moorland fires in areas such as Winter Hill near Bolton.
Last month firefighters from both services tackled a large wildfire near Winter Hill, with eight fire engines attending the scene. Crews spent a number of hours bringing the fire under control. The fire is believed to have been started deliberately.
Earlier this week, firefighters were called to reports of a fire that turned out to be two teenagers having a barbecue on the side of the road on Winter Hill.
Crews from Darwen fire station were called to Stones Bank Road, Belmont at 16:34 on Tuesday. When they arrived they found two young people with a disposable barbecue. Fortunately on this occasion it was a false alarm and the barbecue had not caused a fire, but the incident led to the unnecessary call out for the crews to investigate.
This time of the year is often when we see an increase in moorland fires and with the warm and dry weather set to continue over the weekend and into next week people are being urged to take extra care and be responsible.
The public are being urged to avoid the moors and not make unnecessary journeys to them in line with the current Government guidelines. If you are exercising in the countryside or on the moors you should not be having a barbecue.
Landowners and managers are also asked to exercise caution when considering controlled burns and to only carry them out if they are essential.
Other steps people can take on the moors or in the countryside include:
- Always extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly
- Never leave bottles or glass in woodlands as sunlight shining through this can start large fires.
- Keep children away from matches and cigarettes
Station Manager Adrian Taylor, GMFRS wildfire lead and Station Manager at Bolton North said: “This is an exceptionally busy time for ourselves and all of our partners as we work together to respond to COVID-19.
“If people are abiding by the government guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives, there can be absolutely no reason to be on the moors with a barbecue. However, we are still dealing with reports of people taking barbecues onto the moorland, which is a huge risk of fire, a risk to the environment and ties up our firefighters who could be dealing with other emergencies.
“We have seen all too clearly in recent years how quickly these fires can spread and it is the last thing we need to be dealing with right now. So please think carefully about what you are doing.”
Group Manager Shaun Walton, the National Fire Chief Council’s Tactical Advisor Lead and Community Protection Manager for Pennine says:
“It is vitally important that we all take proactive and responsible steps to reduce the likelihood of wildfires starting.
“There has been a recent increase in fires thought to have been started deliberately across the county over recent days and sadly we know that as a service we are not alone in seeing this trend.
“Having the support of both the public, landowners and managers at this time will undoubtedly help us deal with the additional pressures we’re facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and maintain some vital resilience.
“And to those individuals who seek to aggravate an already difficult situation we ask them to think about the wider consequences of their actions. Tying up valuable emergency service resources could have serious consequences for other people in the community who may genuinely really need our help.”
Bolton Council Leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh said:
“I’d like to thank the vast majority of Bolton residents who are doing their part in the fight against coronavirus by staying at home and following the lockdown measures.
“I understand this is a frustrating time for everyone but I urge you all to keep up this excellent work and do not be tempted to take a walk on the moors and under no circumstances use a barbecue or any sort of open flame.
“Frontline staff are already working flat out to keep us safe, the last thing we need is another major incident that puts people at risk. Stay at home and save lives.”