Firefighters aiming to control fierce Winter Hill blaze

Firefighters at the scene at Winter HillFirefighters at the scene at Winter Hill
Firefighters at the scene at Winter Hill
Lancashire firemen today resumed the battle to extinguish the Winter Hill moorland blaze as the incident entered its fourth day.

Working with colleagues from Greater Manchester and at least six other counties, officers increased their presence at first light.

'‹Overnight there were 10 fire crews at the scene, which has now increased to 22 fire engines in attendance.

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The blaze has been declared a major incident as separate fires from Winter Hill and Scout Road merged yesterday to form a wall of flame.

The Greater Manchester fire service was also still dealing with the massive Saddleworth blaze.

Today there were hopes that the blaze around the huge TV and telecoms mast at Winter Hill was subsiding.

A Lancashire fire and rescue service spokesman said the smoke appeared to have reduced and although there were fires burning around the Belmont side of Winter Hill, the situation was not significantly worse.

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He expected progress to be made today with the helicopter dropping water and renewed firefighting efforts.

Lancashire fire service area manager Tony Cook said "very intensive firefighting" is taking place on Winter Hill, including personnel doing shuttle runs in appliances to get water to the scene while others manually try to beat the fire out.

Fire break trenches are also being dug to try to protect local buildings.

Ben Levy, Greater Manchester's Area Manager said: "Overnight we maintained a presence at both the moorland fires in Tameside and Winter Hill. As dawn broke we headed back onto the hilltops for another day battling both incidents.

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"There are currently 18 crews out across the city-region and that will increase throughout the day.

"The object of today is to continue to control and if possible reduce both incidents". '‹

Fire officers assessed a number of properties in the Rivington area for possible evacuation, but it is believed all householders were allowed to stay.

Overnight the blaze appeared to move towards the village of Belmont, with flames clearly visible from homes in the centre.

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Arquiva, which operates the nearby TV and telecoms mast, tweeted this morning: "The fire has diminished in the area surrounding the Winter Hill mast and there is growing confidence that there will be no service disruption.

"Huge thanks and gratitude to the Emergency Services for their incredible efforts in very difficult circumstances."