09 July 2018
NFRS appliance and vehicles at Winter Hill fire in Lancashire

​Crews from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) have been assisting with firefighting efforts at Winter Hill in Lancashire.

A large area of the moor, close to Bolton, has been ablaze since Thursday, June 28, and scores of firefighters from across the country have been working with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service to bring it under control.

On Sunday, July 1, the first team of 13 NFRS firefighter volunteers travelled up with two appliances, before being relieved on Wednesday by another 13-strong team and a 4x4 vehicle.NFRS firefighters surveying the burning moorland

Tackling fires in tough conditions

Mereway Station Manager Ro Cutler was part of the first NFRS group to head to Winter Hill, where they were working to protect national infrastructure including a 500m communications mast, beating out flames, digging trenches and liaising with helicopter pilots dropping water from above.

SM Cutler said: “Our crews joined colleagues from many other fire and rescue services, working from sunrise to sunset in tough hilly conditions. The days were long and hot, with temperatures reaching 25⁰C-plus and no respite from the sun.

“With the air sometimes full of smoke, masks had to be worn. Using beaters to put out the fires, our firefighters also dug trenches to stop them spreading underground, and used hose reels and jets to cool surrounding buildings and vehicles and hold back advancing fires.

“At times they also have braved fires that have been burning under their feet in the peat, working to protect farms, livestock and houses.”

NFRS crews also worked to protect Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) close to Horwich.

SM Cutler said: “These areas are protected by law, and if destroyed would never recover, with serious ecological consequences.”

Damaged moorland at Winter Hill

Returning home

The second team of firefighters returned to Northamptonshire on Thursday, July 5, ahead of a busy weekend in the county, which hosted the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday.

All the firefighters who went to Lancashire were off-duty from their fire stations of Moulton, Mereway, Wellingborough, Corby, Rushden and Burton Latimer, meaning their absence did not affect fire service cover in the county.

If still required, further NFRS crews will return this week to continue firefighting operations. Two men, aged 20 and 22, arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life have been released under investigation.