Firefighters have recently been working round the clock to extinguish flames that are raging on Saddleworth Moor, but the service has now warned the wildfires could carry on for several weeks.
More than 100 firemen and women have been trying to put out the blaze that has taken over seven square miles of moorland, north of Manchester, since Sunday (June 24th).
They have also been joined by Scottish soldiers from A Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, otherwise known as Highlanders, to help extinguish the flames, as the fire spread quickly.
Ten fire engines, helicopters, mountain rescue teams, Army trucks and specialist vehicles have all been stationed at Swineshaw Reservoir, Stalybridge in the past few weeks, which is being used an operating base to ensure emergency services can work throughout the night and day to calm the flames down, Manchester Evening News reported.
It is believed the fire started because of the heatwave that has swept the country over the past few weeks. As temperatures soared to over 30 degree C, the dry grass on the land set alight. While fire fighters were initially able to control the blaze, the continued hot weather has meant other fires have begun and the flames have spread at an unprecedented speed due to the parched moorland.
Indeed, another bushfire has ignited on Winter Hill, near Rivington in Lancashire, 30 miles from Saddleworth. Lancashire Fire and Rescue sent fire engines to the site to help prevent it from spreading further throughout the county.
A major concern for emergency services is the amount of smoke and ash that has been released by the fires. Those living near the blazes have been advised to keep their windows and doors closed to avoid inhaling the smoke. However, with the extreme weather the north-west has been experiencing recently, it has been very difficult for residents.
Around 34 households have been evacuated in Carbrook as a result of approaching fires and several schools closed for a period of time for the safety of its pupils and staff.
Tony Hunter of Greater Manchester’s Fire and Rescue Service commented: “We have no indication of rain forecast. So as a result, we can see this being prolonged for days if not weeks.”
He added that while the blaze is currently under control, this could change depending on the weather.
“The fire is contained at the moment, but we only need a change of wind direction to see the fire increase. We are working hard to keep on top of the blaze,” Mr Hunter told the media.
Although no-one has been injured yet, the local NHS services will need to be ready in case members of the public or fire service are admitted for burns, smoke inhalation, or even heat stroke for those who live near the blaze and cannot access cool, fresh air.
Residents who experience headaches, dizziness, feelings of sickness, cramps, high temperature of 38 degrees C or above, intense thirst, fast breathing or excessive sweating should try to cool themselves down, lie down, drink plenty of water and spray themselves with water. In extreme cases, it is advisable to get in touch with emergency services if the symptoms do not subside.
Having emergency response plans and contingency plans for incidences of this nature will be essential for those working for the NHS, fire service and other local authority divisions, so staff can be prepared to deal with intense situations, whatever they might be.