Fire crews earn praise for Winter Hill exploits

Lancashire firefighters continue to tackle the fire at Winter Hill
Lancashire firefighters continue to tackle the fire at Winter Hill

Councillors from across the political divide have paid tribute to the work of firefighters tackling moorland blazes in Lancashire.

A fire broke out on Winter Hill, on the border between Chorley and Blackburn, on June 28. It took almost three weeks for firefighters to bring it under control.

Chairman of Lancashire Combined Fire Authority, Frank de Molfetta, tabled a motion at a meeting of Lancashire County Council, to express members’ gratitude for work done in “extreme weather and difficult conditions”.

“We are grateful to firefighters, support staff and volunteers for their efforts to contain the fire, thereby protecting the infrastructure at the top of the hill and [defending against] threats to life and property - while maintaining operational fire cover across Lancashire,” County Coun De Molfetta said.

One member, who was among several to visit the scene at the height of the blaze, described being confronted by what looked like “a battlefield”.

County Coun David O’Toole told how he had witnessed a “spontaneous combustion” close to where he and other councillors were standing.

“Within a minute or two, the chap in command got on the phone and a helicopter arrived to put water [on the fire],” he said. “And then another one arrived - it was like a clockwork operation.

“I can’t state enough the dedication and hard work of our firefighters.”

County Coun Paul Greenhall condemned the possibility that the blaze was started deliberately.

“It’s outrageous that we’ve got people up there risking their lives to save that beautiful area,” he said. “It beggars belief that people were going up there to set these fires on purpose.”