The battle continues

The huge moorland fire which has been burning just a couple of miles up the road from home is now in its ninth day, and though much of it has been extinguished there are still many parts of the moors with peat continuing to burn just under the surface of the ground, evidenced by the large patches of white smoke rising up in many places and the presence of the United Utilities helicopter as it continually drops water to soak the land. Road blocks are still in place and an exclusion zone has now been set up to keep people away from the affected area.
On Wednesday I had to clean at the boss’s house, which is up the main road about halfway between my house and part of the fire, and thinking ahead to going up to my friend’s at Belmont Village I drove past the boss’s place to see how far up the road I could get. The answer was not very far as the rest of the road was blocked off at the junction with Scout Road and it was easy to see why – with the exception of one small corner much of the land above the lower end of Scout RoadΒ and along the main road heading towards Belmont was a blackened and charred mess, and with no traffic the normally quite busy road was eerily silent.
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Fire crew near the bottom of Scout Road
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Burnt land above Scout Road
When I’d finished my work at the boss’s house I left the van there and took a walk through the nearby farm and fields to see if I could see anything from a different viewpoint. Birds tweeted and chirped in the nearby trees and hedgerows, and butterflies flitted among the tall grasses and wild flowers – it was an idyllic, if rather hot, summer’s day and it was only the constant noise of the sometimes unseen helicopter which gave a clue to the nearby serious situation. Although the path would eventually take me up onto part of Scout Road I didn’t want to go that far if I wasn’t supposed to be there so I just took a couple of long-distance shots then turned and made my way back to the van.
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A tranquil country scene
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The helicopter hard at work
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Some of the burnt moorland on Winter Hill
Yesterday morning I found out that the country road between Belmont Village and the Egerton/Bromley Cross areas on the northern outskirts of town had been reopened to allow villagers in and out of Belmont without having to go miles out of their way, so when I left work at Bromley Cross I went straight over to my friend Janet’s place. Driving along that road I had a good view over to the moors and Winter Hill so I pulled up in a lay-by to take a few photos; the fire damage was extensive and there was still smoke rising from the ground in many places – and that was just one section of the whole moor.
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Smoke still rising from the burnt areas just below the skyline
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A very smoky view
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The zig-zag path on the right is where I would walk from the road up to the tv mast
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The support by local people for the fire crews and mountain rescue teams working long exhausting hours in the current hot weather has been fantastic. Individuals and schools have donated bottled water, energy drinks, biscuits, crisps, chocolate bars and other snacks as well as sun cream, insect repellent, socks and caps, and a local supermarket has donated a refrigerated vehicle to keep all the food and drink cool. On Wednesday and yesterday a local branch of McDonald’s provided 200 meals for the fire crews and a sports massage place within a town centre fitness studio is offering free massages this weekend to the firefighters and rangers who have worked all week. Also starting today a local micro brewery/pub will have a 50 litre keg of beer available for any firefighters to have a free pint after their shift and it will stay on tap until they finish it.
The children at the primary school just up the road from me have painted some great messages of thanks and encouragement onto flattened cardboard boxes and these have been fastened to the roadside barriers outside the school where the fire crews can see them as they drive up and down the road – I noticed them on Wednesday when I was driving back from the boss’s house and thought they were so touching that I just had to stop and take a photo of them.
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There’s been a couple of unexpected rays of hope in this disaster though. At the beginning of the week a firefighter rescued a small bird which he found among the smouldering grass, and on Tuesday evening a member of the mountain rescue team saw three deer and a few pheasants on the moor, showing that in spite of the large-scale devastation some creatures have managed to escape and are still alive. It will take a long time for the moorland to fully recover from this disaster but for now I can only hope that when the fire is finally extinguished for good and the ground cools down more creatures will find their way back there and continue to live their lives in peace.

16 thoughts on “The battle continues

  1. Oh gosh, Eunice. I’m glad to hear the firefighters have been able to quench the fire. Fortunately Mother Earth will prevail, slowly, but surely. I wonder how many of the animals found solace in the area where you walked. Every summer our state, California, has to contend with wildfires started by arsonists and careless people. It’s maddening.

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    1. Fortunately disasters like this in this country, whether carelessly or deliberately started, don’t happen very often as we don’t normally have such prolonged periods of hot dry weather, but the fire crews and other services are certainly being stretched with this one. The moorland will recover slowly and the animals and birds will return but it will take a while 😦

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  2. It’s lovely to hear how the community have come together to thank the firefighters for their hard and dangerous work. It’s a timely reminder that most people are good and kind. Good to hear that the fire is mostly under control and eventually the moorland will recover from this. I’m still praying for rain.

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  3. No rain forecast for this area yet, and I’m sure yesterday was the hottest yet – if it wasn’t it certainly felt like it. When I was at work early on Wednesday evening I could see the moors clearly from the upstairs drawing office window but yesterday there was so much smoke I could hardly see anything so I did wonder if the fire had started up again. The smell was really strong too and it wasn’t helped by a stiff breeze blowing in my direction so we had to keep our windows closed 😦 I can’t smell anything now though so maybe it was just smoke without the fire. As I type this the first helicopter of the day has just flown overhead on its way up to the moors so another busy day for the crew there.

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  4. You’ve brought a big lump to my throat: despite all the problems that our disgusting media insist on focussing on, when it comes down to it people rally round and can do such amazing things. Everything Eileen said πŸ™‚

    No rain forecast here for the next two weeks, which is as far out as the predictions go.

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    1. I never normally watch the tv news as it’s always full of doom and gloom but I’ve been getting fire updates online, and reading what local people have been doing to support the firefighters and mountain rescue teams has made me proud to be a resident of this town πŸ™‚

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  5. Seeing your post brings the devestation to life. The firefighters are amazing, to me they are real heros, all they have in their weaponry is water and bravery. I love the messages from the school children, brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for taking the trouble to post this eye witness account. The moor will recover

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    1. I didn’t mean to make you cry Cathy – the messages from the school kids are very touching though and I’m sure they must give the fire crews a boost as they drive to and from the fire. I’ve managed to get some more long distance shots today so I might post an update later tonight or tomorrow morning πŸ™‚

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  6. Those firefighters are so dedicated and people are truelly kind. I am off to Blackburn today so if I see any water/food collection points for the firefighters I will definitely donate. Xx

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  7. Thank you Sharon, I’m sure it will be much appreciated if you do πŸ™‚ Our firefighters do a fantastic job in many difficult circumstances and deserve all the support they can get in whatever form it comes. Also not forgetting, in this instance, the helicopter crew continually flying round in circles collecting water from one of the nearby reservoirs and dropping it on various points of the fire πŸ™‚

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  8. Hi Eunice. I hadn’t realised how close you are to the fires. It must have been so frightening to have it burning out of control like that. Is your air quality affected? I felt so sorry for those guys, wearing masks and endlessly fighting. Exhausting work! It’s good to know how much they are appreciated. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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  9. The burnt land you see in the second photo is the closest part to me, barely a mile-and-a-half directly up the road. Just across the road from there is the quarry where I walked with the dogs only a month ago – fortunately the fire didn’t reach there as the road between acted as a natural fire break. As for air quality, it depends which way the wind’s blowing! Sometimes, like yesterday, the burning smell is so strong that it reaches the far side of town and last night I had to close all my windows but today it’s not been too bad and as I type this I can’t smell anything at all.

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  10. Those pictures really bring it home: so interesting to get an insider view (even if it’s of something you don’t really want to see). The community seems to have rallied round brilliantly. I hope they get it under control soon and catch the idiot(s) who started it.

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  11. I took some more photos yesterday from a different viewpoint and the smouldering parts seemed to have gone worse since I took the ones on here although the smell is less. The first person to be arrested for it was later released but another guy – not immediately local – has now been arrested on suspicion of arson, though I don’t know if the two are connected.

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  12. It hasn’t stopped burning completely but according to an update at 9.30am today it’s under control, though people are still being asked to stay away from the area. I’ve taken some more photos today from the same viewpoint as last Friday (for a future post) and even though I can only see one area of the fire there’s not as much smoke rising now as there was four days ago. The helicopter is still doing its job though and the number of fire engines has now been reduced to 14 so slowly but surely the battle is being won πŸ™‚

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