LONDON (AP) — British fire officials said Wednesday that they have asked for military help to fight a moorland fire that drove dozens of people from their homes in northwest England.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said 100 firefighters were tackling seven pockets of fire across a 3.7 mile (6 kilometer) area of Saddleworth Moor on the outskirts of the city.
Assistant chief fire officer Leon Parkes said some of the fire, which has destroyed some 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of moorland, was in remote, hard-to-reach areas.
Dave Keelan, director of emergency response at the fire service, said “we have requested military assistance from the Ministry of Defense.”
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He said the fire had taken hold in dry peat and was very hard to extinguish.
Firefighters don’t yet know the cause of the fire. Much of Britain is experiencing a heatwave and unusually dry weather.
Brenda Warrington, leader of Tameside Borough Council, said it was “a very changeable situation, almost minute by minute.”
“It’s dry as a tinderbox up there,” with wind fanning the flames, she said.
Residents were told to leave 34 homes in the village of Carrbrook late Tuesday as winds pushed the flames closer.
“The flames were getting closer and closer and the smoke got thicker — you couldn’t see anything, you could hear the sparks,” said Sue McDowell, who left with her husband Peter, their West Highland terriers and their cat.
“We just grabbed whatever we and could got out. It was scary.”