Incident 34/2011

On Friday 29th April 2011, a major moorland fire rapidly developed on the moorlands alongside the A675 Belmont to Abbey Village, resulting in a major response by both Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Such was the extent of the fire that it featured within the evening TV News bulletins, and gained a hold upon the grass and heather moorland, also burning into mature coniferous plantations established in the early 1980’s.

By the early hours of this morning, the fire had developed over a massive area, and at 07:50 our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE was directly contacted by GMFRS Control to liaise with LFRS, and possibly provide assistance to support the fire fighting operations by both LFRS and GMFRS.

At 08:04 the full team was paged to go to ’Standby Status,’ however at 09:00 LFRS contacted our Team Leader to stand down the team as no longer being required.

In the increasingly strong easterly winds however, the fire once more started to spread to a wider area, and at 10:43 the team was requested by the Fire Service to make itself immediately available to support the moorland fire fighting operations.

By 12:15, the team’s full resources were deployed to the Crookfield Road Car Park area off the A675, north of the moorland village of Belmont, which had become the Fire Control Point and Emergency Vehicles RVP.

In an operation which then involved the Bolton MRT on scene upto 22:00 in the evening, the team provided full support to the fire fighting operations, centred around the use of all our five Land Rover MR Ambulance Vehicles deployed and our MR Minibus vehicle, which provided (in the case of the Land Rovers) an off road driving vehicle resource to the overall operation.

Our vehicles were utilised throughout the day, to ferry refreshments and food to Fire Sectors, alongside the A675, farms in the Roddlesworth and Belmont areas, the Belmont to Rivington Road, Manor House and Brinscall areas.

Our vehicles were also used to ferry fire crews back and forth along moorland tracks, take Fire Officers onto the many moorland tracks in the area to access and assess the various fire outbreaks, and transport equipment to various locations.

Meanwhile using the team’s vehicle GPS and team member (mobile phone app based) tracking systems we were able via our Control Trailer, to provide real time location information of help to the Fire Command and Control system.

Throughout the day our Support Group members crewed our Catering Trailer Unit, providing a wide range of catering and drinks to both our members and fire fighters (complimenting the catering already provided for the Fire Services present by the Salvation Army).

As darkness fell, for obvious safety reasons, most fire fighters were withdrawn from the moorlands, and the team was stood down on scene at 22:00, with LFRS leaving in place various Fire Appliances and Fire Teams around the whole of the moorland fire area overnight.

The following resources were known to have been involved in today’s moorland fire operation.

  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; 22x Team Call Out list members and 6x members of our Support Group. Five Team Land Rover MR Ambulance Vehicles, our MR Minibus, Control Trailer and Catering Trailer Unit.
  • Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service; Mobile Fire Control Unit, large numbers of Fire Appliances, including Pump Appliances, a High Volume Pump Appliance, Specialist Soft Track All Terrain Vehicle, Quad Bikes and a multitude of Support and Personnel carrier vehicles.
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service; Various Pump Appliances and a high volume Pump Appliance.
  • Lancashire Constabulary Air Support Unit Helicopter, ’Oscar November 99,’ which flew the Fire Incident Commander on a reconnaissance flight over the moorland fire areas, after first landing at the Crookfield Road Control / RVP to collect him.
  • United Utilities Ranger and Estate Staff members.
  • Salvation Army Mobile Catering Unit.

Update as of Sunday 1st May 2011. Today the fire went into its third day, with the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team providing four wheel drive vehicle support to the overall fire fighting operation.