Incident 47/2015 – Assisting LFRS and GMFRS at a large scale moorland wildfire on Smithills Moor, Winter Hill

This evening the team provided logistical and other support to LFRS and GMFRS at a large scale moorland wildfire on Smithills Moor, Winter Hill.

Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE was made aware of the fire at circa 16.45hrs, and as the team was to be providing standby rescue cover for the Two Lads Fell Race in the general vicinity of the wildfire, it was felt prudent to liaise with the Fire Services involved in tackling with the developing wildfire.

Various telephone calls were made between Garry and LFRS and GMFRS Fire Officers, and with the fire further spreading at 18.26hrs North West Fire Control paged the team for assistance to deal with the fire.

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A full team pager call out was made at 18.40hrs (Previous to this the team had been placed on standby) and team members quickly assembled at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ, with the news that the Two Lads Fell Race had been cancelled due to the fire.

A control point had been established part way up the ‘mast’ road leading to Winter Hill summit transmitter station, and it was here that we were tasked to liaise initially with the Fire Service (LFRS / GMFRS) Incident Commanders.

An emergency vehicle holding point was also established on Georges Lane, Horwich and along Coal Pits Lane, Smithills, where most of our team initially met, alongside some Fire Service resources.

hagg1Road closures were put in to place by GMP on parts of Georges Lane and the Winter Hill summit transmitter station access road.

NPAS 21, from Barton, landed at the control point at 20.31hrs airlifting a GMFRS Officer for a reconnaissance overflight of the fire zone area.

By this stage the fire which had been spreading across a wide area of Smilthills Moor, was being brought under control.

Via LFRS, specialist all terrain assets were also brought in from Bay Search and Rescue Team, who arrived prior to 21.00hrs with one of their very specialist Hagglund vehicles, with a water tank powered trailer attachment.

With a drop in the wind and the onset of nightfall lowering temperatures, the fire was soon brought totally under control, and most assets began to be released from the fire scene from 21.25hrs onwards.

hagg4By circa 23.00hrs all Bolton MRT and Bay SART assets had stood down from the incident scene alongside the remaining GMFRS and LFRS resources.

The following day, GMFRS and Bay SART returned to dampen down the remaining hotspots.
During our involvement with this incident, we provided transport of drinks and food to firefighters, navigational and local knowledge assistance, transport of firefighters, road marshaling and fire spotting.

This incident illustrated large scale multi agency working, with GMP, NPAS, United Utilities, Bolton MRT, GMFRS, LFRS and the Salvation Army all involved, working together to bring this moorland wild fire incident to a conclusion.

The following resources were known to be involved in dealing with this wildfire incident;

  • Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service; Multiple pump appliances from amongst other Fire Stations, Chorley. Softrac and Polaris specialist ATVs. Mobile Fire Station / Control Vehicle. Officers including FOG Officer Shaun Walton.
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service; Multiple pump appliances and Intervention vehicles from amongst other Fire Stations Horwich, Irlam, Bolton Central. Officers including Incident Command and Station Officers.
  • Salvation Army; Mobile Catering Unit vehicle with three staff.
  • United Utilities; Staff and an ATV vehicle.Winter Hill Fire 11Jun15 024
  • Bay Search and Rescue Team; One Haggland specialist tracked ATV, with power trailer (water tank), and transporter vehicle, Land Rover Discovery Support Vehicle, and team personnel.
  • National Police Air Service; Helicopter NPAS 21 from City Airport Manchester (Barton)
  • Greater Manchester Police; Traffic Car and local Divisional vehicles and Officers.
  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; Twenty eight team operational members, four Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances, Ford Transit Crewbus / Ambulance, VW Crafter LWB Incident Control Vehicle.

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The following report on this incident is from the website news feed of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service;

Firefighters from Greater Manchester and Lancashire tackle moorland fire on Winter Hill.
Borough: Bolton

Incident Date: 11 June 2015

FIREFIGHTERS from Greater Manchester and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services are tackling a significant moorland fire on Winter Hill, Horwich.

Control operators were called about the blaze after a pilot flying over the moors spotted the fire and contacted air traffic controllers at 3.55pm today, Thursday June 11.

Winter Hill Fire 11Jun15 016The fire is around a mile away from Georges Lane in Horwich and crews are advising local residents to stay away from the area and keep their doors and windows closed if their property is affected by smoke.

There are currently over 10 appliances (over 50 firefighters) at the scene along with various specialist equipment, including beaters, all terrain vehicles and firefighting fans.The fire services are being supported by a number of other agencies as they tackle the fire. These include Bolton Mountain Rescue, United Utilities, GMP and Bay Search and Rescue.

Group Manager Dean Nankivell, who is the Officer in Charge of the incident, said: “In this warm weather the ground is extremely dry which creates a tinderbox effect and that means any fire can spread very easily.

Winter Hill Fire 11Jun15 015“This wildfire currently spans an area of around 1km by 500metres, with various pockets of fire across the moorland and firefighters are working incredibly hard to surround it and stop it from spreading.

“It is particularly arduous work, the location means water is not easily accessible and crew use beaters to extinguish it and create breaks to prevent the fire from spreading.

“They are also trying to limit the impact on the environment and wildlife in the area.

“We would ask people to stay away from the area until the fire is out – and if you live locally to keep doors and windows shut.

“We are expecting to be at the scene for several hours.”