Moorland fire being investigated as arson, police confirm
Wednesday 4th July 2018 @ 13:27 by Tom Greggan
News Stalybridge Tameside

Police have confirmed that the moorland fire, which has raged on the Tameside moors for nine consecutive days, is being investigated as arson.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, following initial enquiries with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire service was initially called to reports of land on fire near Buckton Vale at 8.19pm on Sunday June 24th. Since then, fire fighters have spent more than a week tackling the blaze in extremely challenging weather conditions.

Crews and specialist officers continue to battle fires in five areas across Tameside’s moors, which have been raging now for nine consecutive days.

Witnesses reported people lighting a bonfire at around 7.30pm on Sunday June 24th on the moors near the Stalybridge estate and officers are currently pursuing this as a possible line of enquiry.

Residents of Calico Crescent in Carrbrook were evacuated from their homes last Tuesday evening (June 26th) as the flames moved threateningly close to properties.

Hundreds of fire crews from across the country have battled the blaze, assisted by the military and other services, such as mountain rescue teams and United Utilities.

Although now under control, the fire is continuing to burn despite the best efforts of all those involved.

This incredible image from NASA shows the scale of the fire as seen from space.

Chief Superintendent Neil Evans, Territorial Policing Commander for Tameside, said: “The moorland fire is now being investigated as arson following information from local witnesses and initial inquiries.”

“The scale of this fire is exceptional and we are treating it with the utmost seriousness.

“That said, we are under no illusion that solid evidence as to where the fire started and what was the cause, will not be easy to establish.

“The areas we have been able to look include dusty ash, burnt peat and grass and, because of this, our work with the fire service will be painstaking.

“We recognise the incredible support that the emergency services have received and we now hope that the local community can help us further by getting in touch with any information that could help our investigation.

“Were you on the moors last Sunday and did you see anything that could help us understand exactly what happened?

“If you know anything, no matter how small, it could help our investigation so please get in touch.”

Police chiefs say the cause of the fire will not be easy to establish.

Interim Chief Fire Officer, Dawn Docx added: “Specialist fire investigation officers at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are working closely with Greater Manchester Police to investigate the suspected arson in the moorlands in Tameside.

“Investigations are currently ongoing with a multi-agency approach to find the source of the ignition. There is an area of interest that specialist officers are inspecting.

“Firefighters are working in extremely difficult and challenging circumstances in Tameside and I can’t praise crews enough – they’ve done a fantastic job and are continuing to work hard to put out the multiple fires across the moorlands.

“I would like to urge the public to be really careful with barbecues, discarded cigarettes and glass bottles in the countryside, fires in the moorlands can spread rapidly so it’s important that we take extra care.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 9353, alternatively call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.