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Winter Hill fire has been brought ‘under control’

Posted on - 17th July, 2018 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Preston News, Wildlife and Conservation
Green shoots have been coming through amongst the scarred hillside
Green shoots have been coming through amongst the scarred hillside

Efforts on Winter Hill to contain a moorland fire have paid off.

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Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service say the blaze at Rivington has now been brought under ‘full control’.

After nearly two and a half weeks of intensive battling with the elements and work by hundreds of firefighters from across the UK the fire is no longer being treated as a major incident.

Around 18 square kilometres of moorland has been affected by the fire.

Rain in the last 48-hours also helped to dampen the flames, although the fire service said they had to maintain a watching brief due to hot spots still breaking through.

Read more: What it was like on the frontline fighting the Winter Hill fire

Chief fire officer Chris Kenny said: “We’re in a strong position in what’s been a very difficult and complex incident. Thanks to extremely hard work from our crews and partners, we have successfully protected the vital infrastructure and properties in the area. We’re now able to further reduce the amount of resources involved while still providing round-the-clock protection.

“However there is significant work ahead to bring the incident to an end. Our drone allows us to identify hot spots in the peat underground using thermal imaging and there are still areas burning beneath the surface.

“Although we’ve had some rain which helps to douse the land, firefighters will remain at the site until we can be more certain there is no further risk of fire. This involves monitoring the moorland for pockets of fire, damping hot areas down and maintaining control lines to prevent any fire from spreading.

“We ask the public to continue avoiding the moorland area so we can keep up the progress we’ve made. Road closures remain in place to allow us to operate vital equipment and keep emergency access points clear. I’d like to thank residents and businesses nearby for their cooperation and patience.”

“Unfortunately we are also attending wildfires in other areas of the county. My plea to residents and visitors is to take real care and be extra vigilant when outdoors. Disposable BBQs, discarded cigarettes and even rubbish left on the ground can all start a fire.”

Firefighters tackle the advancing fire on Winter Hill.

At the height of the fire, which began on Thursday 28 June, there were more than 150 firefighters along with mountain rescue teams, the army and other emergency services battling the flames.

Read more: Watch what firefighters have faced on Winter Hill

Two men were arrested, one from Wigan and one from Bolton, in connection with the fire and remain under investigation by Lancashire Police. No charges have been made.

Air quality around the Winter Hill area has improved in recent days.

A spokesman for Public Health England said: “Now the smoke is reducing, we hope people can enjoy their usual outdoor activities in areas where there is no visible smoke. But whilst fire fighting continues and weather conditions vary there may still be times of poor air quality, so remember to continue to minimise your exposure to any smoke and keep your medication with you.”

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