BRAVE fire crews battled flames, heat and smoke as they tackled what has been described as the area’s worst fire in living memory.
Scores of firefighters were still on the scene in Stalybridge, Mossley and Saddleworth as the Correspondent went to press on June 27 but it was hoped the worst of the flames had been suppressed.
The evening before, 34 homes in Calico Crescent, Carrbrook were evacuated and a major incident was declared, with the army on stand-by to help if needed.
Fire crews and emergency services tackled the fire overnight before Leon Parkes, assistant chief fire officer with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, gave an update in the morning.
He said: “Fire crews have been working in tremendously difficult conditions in the heat, smoke, working with our partner agencies.
“A number of actions were put in place including the evacuation of nearby houses because of the spread of the fire.
“We are doing an assessment on the scene this morning (June 27). We have 10 fire engines with 50 fire fighters.
“Some earth sampling was undertaken last night and the readings that have come back are showing safe levels.
“Our advice to the public is to close your windows and doors if you are experiencing smoke. The feedback in respect of the smoke is that they’re at safe levels.
“The evacuation was just over 30 homes last night, there were a number of other homes at threat of fire. However we put additional services in that area so I hope we’ve quelled that risk.
“The area is really, really large – it’s a really difficult fire situation because of the size of it, some of the feedback we’ve received is that it’s over 6km.
“Clearly the challenges are enormous. We have fire fighters working in really, really hot conditions. They’re doing everything they can to control that fire.
“The scenes of fire are not where we can access, some of them are two miles away (from where we can park).
“The plan is to try and really put some resource on the scene, and put a heavy attack on this fire – if that needs military assistance, that’s what we’ll consider.
“We’ve got lots of experience with dealing with moor fires. But this particular incident is vast.
Due to health and safety and unsafe conditions, Mossley Hollins High School was closed on June 27, as were Buckton Vale Primary and Millbrook Primary schools.
An investigation will be launched into the cause of the inferno blaze.
GMP Saddleworth and Lees, who helped at the scene, said: “Fire officers have informed us that the seat of the fire is located in an area at Tameside called Buckton Hill which is land above Buckton Vale, Carrbrook.
“A large quarry is at this location and it is used extensively by riders on off road motor bikes.
“If an investigation is to be carried out to identify persons seen at this location then colleagues from the Ashton division will take up those enquiries and we would urge that if you have any information available to assist this process then call 101 and report it to us.”