Local retained firefighters who have worked tirelessly to help extinguish wild fires in the region putting in 700 extra hours on top of holding down jobs have thanked their employers and families for their understanding.
Fire crews from Clitheroe began to help with the moorland fires which had broken out in the region around three weeks ago.
Watch manager Dave McGrath said: “We were asked to send one fire engine to cover Rochdale, as Greater Manchester crews were dealing with wild fires on Saddleworth and Stalybridge. Each day we provided one fire appliance to attend Saddleworth or Stalybridge or cover one of Greater Manchester’s fire stations.
“When Winter Hill started we had one fire appliance every day on the moors fire fighting. Most shifts were 12 hours, but some days we covered 19 hours. We always had a fire appliance in Clitheroe which was used for fire calls within our area.”
Crew manager Glen Dinsdale added: “On July 2nd my crew got called to the Winter Hill incident at 2am and returned to the station at 4pm.
“We restocked our equipment and cleaned the pump only to be mobilised to a separate incident in Tosside where electrical cables had dropped on to trees and grassland and set alight.
“The crew battled that fire along with four neighbouring crews until 10pm.
“We also attended a large grass fire in Accrington while our other pump was on Winter Hill. Both pumps were out all night. The fire resulted in the A56 being shut for a long period until the smoke cleared.”
Crew manager Gary Hickling added: “We always tried to limit the impact of people coming out of their full time jobs, however this meant sometimes going from work, to the moors through the night, then straight back to work the next day.”
He added: “The conditions were extremely difficult trying to beat back fire in high temperatures, whilst the ground temperature to stand on was over 400 degrees in the deep-seated areas.”
The firefighters expressed their thanks to local companies – Sainsbury’s supermarket, Dawsons Department Store, Hodsons Coaches (Clitheroe) Limited, Masons Textiles, Ultraframe (UK) Ltd, 3M UK and MerseyCare NHS Foundation Trust for allowing their staff to attend these unprecedented incidents.
“Without their support, we genuinely would of struggled,” said Mr McGrath. “Thanks also to our partners and families, who have seen very little of us for the past three weeks.”
“The general public have been unbelievable with their support of refreshments at all of the wild fires,” added Mr McGrath, who also thanked Ribble FM for its collection.
Despite the recent rain, there is still a large fire service presence with nine pumps still in attendance damping down hot spots.