Crews exhausted by moorland fires

Aerial views of the operation to tackle moorland fires in Lancashire

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Firefighters are being left physically exhausted by efforts to tackle a fire which has been burning on Lancashire moorland for six days.

Firefighters are tackling smouldering fires above Anglezarke Reservoir, near Belmont, in peatland near Ormskirk and at a nature reserve near Horwich.

Crews need to dig up the ground to get at the fire, which is deep in the peat, before dousing it with water.

Stephen Howarth, Nelson watch manager, said: "The crews are suffering."

Crews at Belmont are now concentrating their efforts around the now burnt-out conifer tree plantations to the south west corner of the moor.

Nine engines plus specialist equipment - including a high-volume pump which delivers 40,000 litres of water a minute - were in use on Wednesday afternoon.

"This has to be one of the worst [moorland fires] I've been to. The conditions over the weekend were ideal for this situation to happen," said Mr Howarth.

Start Quote

We're digging and dousing the fire and just working our way through the forest”

End Quote Stephen Howarth Nelson watch manager

"We're digging and dousing the fire and just working our way through the forest.

"During the night it's dropping down to freezing temperatures and visibility is bad, and then during the day the sun's warming things up and you're still wearing the full protection.

"The crews are suffering."

At their height, more than 80 firefighters were sent to Anglezarke Moor and Wheeton Moor after the fires broke out on Friday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, a second moorland fire broke out in peat at Whitemoss Horticulture at Simonswood near Ormskirk.

About 25 firefighters remain at the scene dousing the smouldering peat, which is being turned over by the company's heavy lifting equipment.

The latest outbreak of fire was at the Red Moss nature reserve near Horwich, Greater Manchester.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which is responsible for the area, said the protected peat bog was a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

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