Winter Hill fire – a week in pictures

The wildfire which has devastated several square miles of local moorland not far from my home over the last sixteen days is now mostly out and resources are being scaled back with the number of fire crews reduced to nine, but there are still several hotspots in the peat which are being tracked by a Lancashire Fire Service thermal imaging drone and dealt with by the crews stationed at strategic points around the moorland. Over the last eight days, while out and about during my daily life, I’ve stopped off at a couple of places where I’ve been able to get some photos of the east side of the moors, although due to the long range involved and the smoky atmosphere the quality of some of them isn’t the best.
The following five shots were all taken in the afternoon of Friday July 6th from fields at the Last Drop Village at Bromley Cross –
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The next six were taken from the same location on the morning of Tuesday July 10th – smoke still rising but greatly reduced
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Burnt moorland close to the tv mast
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Burnt moorland above Scout Road
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The next couple of shots were taken at lunch time on Thursday July 12th from the road between the Egerton area and Belmont Village. Although the smoke was going less I could see one area where it was actually creeping down the hill – I did take a couple of shots of it but it was too far away to make even a half-decent photo.
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Fire crew stationed next to Springs Reservoir on the main road to Belmont
Late that afternoon the sky clouded over somewhat and by 6pm it was raining the proverbial cats and dogs though it only lasted for about half an hour. The rest of the evening was fine, though when I got up on Friday morning I could see that it had rained overnight – probably nowhere near as much as was needed to put the fire out completely but at least it would help. The day was dull and cooler than previously and again we had a downpour during the late afternoon but it didn’t last long and the evening turned out to be quite pleasant. Yesterday, to counteract the assumption that the fire is now out completely, the Lancashire Fire Service staff from Bacup fire station posted a photo taken at 5am that morning of flames breaking out in a hotspot.
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Hotspot photo from Lancashire FRS
With the very brief damp spell over the weather yesterday was back to being hot and sunny, and no longer having any smell of smoke in the atmosphere that morning I decided to take the dogs for a walk to see if I could get any closer-up photos of some of the burnt moorland. The main A675 road up to Belmont Village is still closed so I drove up as far as the boss’s house, which was as far as I could go, left the van there and walked up through the nearby farm and the fields onto Scout Road, which is also still closed off. With no immediate sign of the fire it was hard to believe that the currently quiet road had probably been chaos not long ago, and the only tell-tale sign was the long fire hose made up of many sections coupled together and stretching the whole length of the road.
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Fire hose stretching along Scout Road
As I walked along I began to see signs of the fire; a field on my left, where a couple of horses were quietly grazing, was backed by a steep bank covered in scorched and blackened earth, and as I got close to the top of the bad bend in the road more blackened land came into view. The road at that point had acted as a natural fire break and all the fire had been contained on one side, but I was quite surprised to see a burnt area on the opposite side, at the top of the path leading down to the quarry where I walked only a few weeks ago. It wasn’t a very big area though so I’m assuming that the wind had blown some sparks across from the main fire and this one was extinguished fairly quickly.
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The minor fire was in the foreground – the road runs between there and the mound behind
With a fire engine and crew down towards the bottom of the road, and not wanting to go too far down in case I shouldn’t really have been there, I turned round there and retraced my steps along the road and through the fields back to where I’d left the van. From there I drove the long way round to Belmont Village, parked near my friend’s house then went to see what I could see from that side of the moorland. In actual fact there wasn’t really much to  see from the village as the bulk of the fire had been over the top of the hill and more on the Smithills and Rivington side so I went back to the main road and walked down and up the hill to the San Marino restaurant, which wasn’t far. There was a fire crew based in the car park there so after I’d taken a couple of photos I got talking to them – one of them was quite taken with Sophie and Poppie and he even gave them a drink of bottled water.
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Parts of the burnt moorland seen from San Marino
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The dogs get a drink from a fireman
Thanking him for the drink I walked back to the van and made my way back home via the road from Belmont to Egerton, stopping just once in a lay-by to take another couple of photos, and looking over at the moorland from there it was possible to see pockets of smoke still rising from a few hotspots on the hillside. The firemen had told me that the crews will probably remain on duty until the end of the week continually dampening down the ground, and only once they are sure that the fire is completely out everywhere will they leave.
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Hard to see on here but smoke is still rising from parts of the hillside
Those were my last shots of the day and back at home I made a coffee and downloaded my photos onto the pc. I’d been out for three-and-a-half hours and done a fair bit of walking, and though I still had some shopping to do I was going to relax for a while first – and hopefully it won’t be long before I read an update to say the the Winter Hill fire is out completely and the battle has finally been won.
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Red – enclosed area affected by fire, approx 5 square miles   Blue – roads/lanes closed to traffic   White – footpaths closed   Yellow – tv mast and buildings   Orange – Rivington Pike tower   Green – where I took the photos from

14 thoughts on “Winter Hill fire – a week in pictures

  1. A long, hard job for the firefighters. So pleased to hear the fire is almost out and the fire crews will remain until they are sure the fire is completely out. We have had no rain here at all for weeks, the forecast said showers and possible thunderstorms on Friday and apart from being cooler there was nothing. Lovely for Sophie and Poppie to be treated to a drink, I can see they were enjoying it 🙂 The moorland will recover in time. I hope the arsonists responsible have the book thrown at them.


    1. There’s been no further word on the two people arrested for arson and released although the police are keeping the second guy under investigation. I’m hoping that in time any displaced wildlife will find its way back there, and I’m looking forward to when I can take the dogs back up round there for a proper walk. I’ve also just added a map to the bottom of the post to show the area affected by the fire.

      Incidentally, while I was out yesterday I found a genuine article for your mole garden but you wouldn’t have wanted it as it was very dead 🙂 🙂


  2. Excellent post Eunice, really shows some of the scale and extent of the devastation. And who wouldn’t love a fireman who shares his water with the girls …. awwww.

    Hugely envious that you had some rain. A couple of days ago there was precipitation in nearby towns but still nothing here. I have learnt the endlessly dry weather is because of the Jet Stream, which isn’t where it usually is. I know that being sad and grumpy isn’t going to make the slightest bit of difference but I am having a significant sense of humour failure over the state of the garden.


  3. What’s not to love about a fireman who loves dogs?? He was single too – now if only I was 20 years younger…. 🙂 🙂

    In view of the fire the rain we had here was really too little, as much as I prefer the current weather I’d love to have a downpour lasting several days. I’m sorry about your lovely garden being affected, hopefully you’ll get a good downpour of the wet stuff soon and things will begin to perk up.


  4. It certainly has been, and I have every admiration for all the fire crews who have done a difficult job in difficult circumstances – hopefully it won’t be too long now before things are back to normal 🙂


  5. An interesting post which highlighted the problem of moorland fires, how hard it is to deal with them and the devastation caused. Hoping for more rain to help.


    1. It absolutely bounced down here last evening for well over two hours so hopefully that will have helped, but with peat burning in hotspots five or six feet under the surface it’ll take a lot of water to make sure they are killed completely.


  6. Glad it’s under control with no loss of life, Eunice. The moors will regenerate, won’t they? I’m always a bit alarmed if we drive over them and there is controlled burning going on. We’ve not been down for a while and it must be nearly time for the heather to bloom. Awful for the animals, and the poor firemen and volunteers. It absolutely bounced here last night. Thunder and lightening and the whole show. It all looks much fresher this morning. 🙂 🙂


  7. It bounced down here last evening too, for about two-and-a-half hours so it will all have helped – we didn’t have any thunder and lightning though, and as soon as it stopped the sky brightened up and it was almost sunshining again. The latest update this morning as of about an hour ago is that fire crews have now been scaled down to six at peak times and most of the roads have been reopened although people are being told to still keep off the footpaths until further notice


  8. The latest update is that fire crews have now been scaled back to four and the long job now begins to collect all the miles of hose and other equipment from off the moor as well as checking for any further hotspots. If we do have a downpour tomorrow then hopefully that will put an end to anything likely to flare up again.


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