Helicopters scoop up water from reservoir to fight moorland wildfires

Helicopters scoop up water from a reservoir in front of sunbathing families in desperate battle against moorland wildfires

  • Water picked up from Dove Stone Reservoir to help extinguish Saddleworth Moor fires in Greater Manchester
  • Moorland blaze has come close to houses, saw 100 residents evacuated and been fought by 160 firefighters  
  • Helicopters are also being used to help fight separate huge moorland wildfire at Winter Hill, near Bolton
  • Drone owners told to stop flying their devices over the area to avoid a potential collision with the aircraft
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Helicopters scooped up water from a reservoir in front of sunbathing families and walkers today as the battle against wildfires in England continued.

The water was picked up from Dove Stone Reservoir to help extinguish the fires on Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester which have now been burning for a week during what is the UK’s longest heatwave since 1976.

The large moorland blaze at Saddleworth last week came close to houses and led to the evacuation of up to 100 residents. It has been fought by 160 firefighters and 160 soldiers, with seven square miles of moorland affected.

Helicopters are also being used to help fight a separate wildfire at Winter Hill, near Bolton, with drone owners told to stop flying their devices over the enormous area of moorland to avoid a potential collision with the aircraft. 


Helicopters collect water from Dove Stone Reservoir today to help fight the fire on Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester


The large moorland blaze at Saddleworth last week came close to houses and led to the evacuation of up to 100 residents


The Saddleworth blaze has been fought by 160 firefighters and 160 soldiers, with seven square miles of moorland affected


Drone owners have been to stop flying their devices over the burning moorland to avoid a potential collision with a helicopter


Firefighters from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service try to put out the fire on Winter Hill near Bolton today


More than 20 fire engines are at the scene of the blaze with crew tackling the moorland fires at Winter Hill today

Lancashire Police urged members of the public to stay away from the fire, saying people had driven to the scene to record the incident on mobile phones and blocked access roads for emergency vehicles.

The warning came as the Winter Hill fire grew to the point it merged with another moorland fire off Scout Road to cover three square miles. The blaze is expected to continue burning through this week.

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Flames could be seen leaping 6ft in the air as they caught fresh vegetation, while other areas smouldered with acrid smoke. About 100 firefighters were at the scene, from Greater Manchester, Lancashire and further afield.

Astonishingly, arsonists are said to have been spotted by a police helicopter trying to start new fires in light fires at a grassland called Healey Nab, on the edge of Chorley – a couple of miles to the north of the Winter Hill fire. 


Emergency services have been desperately battling the wildfire at Winter Hill, near Bolton, pictured yesterday


A firefighter carries a water hose past sheep close during the ferocious moorland fire at Winter Hill yesterday


Firefighters allowed the fire at Winter Hill to burn in the dark without control on Saturday night for safety reasons


A helicopter drops water on the moorland fire at Winter Hill yesterday as emergency services desperately battle the blaze


The fire was raging on Saturday night near the Winter Hill TV transmitter, which covers the North West England


A firefighter tries to move sheep away from scorched moorland as it burns during a moorland fire at Winter Hill yesterday

Tony Crook, from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said it was ‘absolutely heart-breaking and unbelievable’, adding: ‘Police are now attending that scene, to try to apprehend those arsonists. It absolutely astounds me.’

More than 20 fire engines are at the scene of the Winter Hill fire today, with crews having remained there overnight after a ‘large-scale attack’ was launched against the ‘rapidly developing, aggressive fire’ on Sunday.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said it had increased the number of fire engines at the scene from 17 to 22 as the full-scale operation began again at first light, focusing on hotspots around the five-mile site.

Meanwhile a businessman has told how his country cottage had to be saved by firefighters who dug a protective ‘trench’ as flames from the Winter Hill fire engulfed the surrounding moorland.

Mike Sewell and his wife Belinda bought the 200-year-old stone house three years ago and have spent £100,000 on renovations. But their £400,000 dream home came perilously close to being consumed by the fire. 


Firefighters were trying to control the fire on the top of Winter Hill with the help of a helicopter and beaters yesterday


A group of firefighters taking the inferno at Winter Hill yesterday, which has been declared a major incident


There were about 120 personnel on the moors, split between seven areas of wildfire in Tameside and Winter Hill (pictured)


A helicopter continually drops water over Winter Hill in Lancashire, as wildfires continue to burn across the hillside yesterday


A group of firefighters tackle the moorland fire near a building at Winter Hill, near Rivington with jet hoses yesterday

Mr Sewell, 54, who runs a kitchen supply business with his wife, 50, said: ‘We were very worried. My biggest fear was that the fire could destroy the house. It was on our doorstep, 50 yards away, we were surrounded by it.’

Crash warning to drone owners as helicopters fight moorland fires

Drone owners have been told to stop flying their devices over an enormous moorland fire – to avoid a potential collision with helicopters being used to help fight the blaze.

Lancashire Fire Service said three drones have been sighted hovering over the fire on Winter Hill, near Bolton, with users believed to be filming the inferno.

A spokesman said the fire service was worried about the risk of collisions with a police helicopter and with a helicopter owned by water firm United Utilities, which is dropping water on the blaze.

Posting a warning on social media, it wrote: ‘Would all amateur drone users please steer clear of this area, it does hamper our extremely important work.’

The spokesman said: ‘Drone users have been contacted and it’s been explained to them why they’ve not been asked to fly, where movement of helicopters might be hindered or endangered.’

Lancashire Police urged members of the public to stay away from the fire.

Mr and Mrs Sewell, their son Connor, 21, who live in the main house, had to evacuate with daughter Deanna, also 23, her partner George Yewdale, 20, and their infant son Cameron, 18 months, who live in a static caravan on the same site.

They have since been staying with friends. Mr Sewell said the trench was dug by the fire service on Saturday, using an excavator. He said: ‘It encircles our home and is about three to four feet wide.’

The fire is also near the Winter Hill television transmitter, but Arqiva, which manages it, said the danger to the mast had receded due to a change in the direction of the fire.

Lancashire Police investigating the Winter Hill fire have continued to question a 22-year-old man from Bolton, who was arrested on Friday on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. 

Greater Manchester Police said no arrests had been made in connection with the Saddleworth Moor blaze, despite claims that scrambler bikers were responsible.

Richard Burch, a gamekeeper for the Stalybridge Estate, where the fire started, said he told police last week how four bikers had built a racecourse, ripping up vegetation and setting it on fire.

Elsewhere, in Rumney, Cardiff, mother Danielle Caffell, 30, and her four children were left ‘devastated’ after a grass fire spread into their garden – destroying a shed, trampoline, bicycles and a paddling pool on Friday.


Specialist emergency services vehicles and support agencies have been deployed to Winter Hill to help fight the blaze


A firefighter walks towards smoke as it rises at Winter Hill. Pedestrians and motorists have urged to stay away from the scene


Two firefighters in a specialist vehicles fight the blaze at Winter Hill yesterday which has been raging since Thursday


A helicopter collecting water from a reservoir yesterday which it used to try to dampen the flames at Winter Hill


Firefighters like this one are desperately trying to fight the fire in the dense moorland at Winter Hill using jet hoses


The moorland fire raging at Winter Hill has been burning since Thursday and merged yesterday with one at Scout Road

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