Darwen moor fire-fighters say public support is overwhelming
Workers fighting a huge moorland blaze near Darwen in Lancashire have expressed their gratitude for the upswell of support they have received from local people. Fire crews, mountain rescue teams and workers and contractors from water company United Utilities have been ‘overwhelmed’ with gifts of food and other essential items since the fire started on Saturday.
In the latest development, a social media campaign has come to light urging people in Darwen to stage a communal clap on Thursday to applaud the efforts of those braving intense conditions to keep flames away from the town.
The incident is being tackled by a range of organisations including Lancashire Fire Service, Greater Manchester Fire Service, Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, Rossendale & Pendle Mountain Rescue team and United Utilities and a number of its contractors, as well as police.
United Utilities’ local catchment manager Matt Upton, who lives in Darwen, said everyone had been very touched by the support they had received.
“All of us are working in very hot, difficult conditions, but we are all focussed on containing the fire and stopping it from spreading. It really could not be more appreciated.
“These are very long days and it’s nice to know people are thinking of us. People are dropping off all sorts of things. We have had donations of food, plus water, wet wipes, sun cream and cakes. It’s been overwhelming.
“I live in Darwen and I have seen on local Facebook groups and other places that people are planning to do a clap for everyone tonight, like the ones people have been doing throughout the lockdown. I think I speak for everyone when I say it means a lot to us, especially at the moment.”
The massive blaze, which at one point reached 2.5km across Darwen Moor, Turton Moor and Cartridge Hill, is thought to have been started by a disposable barbecue. Fire crews from both Lancashire and Greater Manchester fire and rescue services are in attendance. United Utilities owns much of the affected land and is lending crucial support, which at the fire’s height included 12 staff, a helicopter and vehicles with powerful jet hoses to damp down areas extinguished by fire staff.
The company’s agricultural contractors are also using excavators and flailing equipment to created breaks in vegetation which the fire can’t jump across, said Matt. Water from two reservoirs is being delivered by vehicle to the seats of fires where fire fighters need it most. Neither of the reservoirs are used for drinking water supply, so there is no impact on water resources.
As Matt explained: “We are only taking about a tonne of water at a time, which is an insignificant amount compared to the amount in the reservoir, but makes a big impact on the fire.”