29/06/2018 12:08 BST | Updated 29/06/2018 15:02 BST

Saddleworth Moor Fire Causing Nose Bleeds, Eye And Chest Problems For Nearby Residents

'People are worried about it.'

Residents living near Saddleworth Moor have reported health fears including bleeding noses, eye irritation and chest problems as the fire continues, a GP has said.

Dr Richard Bircher, of Lockside Medical Centre in Stalybridge, said about half of the emergency appointments booked on Thursday had been from patients reporting problems as a result of the smoke.

He said: “People are worried about it. They are minor symptoms but people are a bit scared.”

He said the smoke was also exacerbating problems for people with asthma.

“Thankfully the smoke is getting less at the moment, but the advice is to try avoid it,” he said.

“If you’re really struggling, go and stay with relatives or friends somewhere else and if you have children who are suffering try and move them away from the smoke.

“There are elderly people who want to stay in their homes and we advise them to shut the windows.

“If people are feeling really bad they can take an antihistamine. We are also advising people to wash their hands and face to get rid of any dust and wear a facemask.”

As firefighters said the blaze could potentially last for days, if not weeks, Dr Bircher said people should continue to take the advice.

He said: “The smoke was worse yesterday but we are seeing more people coming into the surgery today so I think it’s having a cumulative effect.”

But, he said the community had come together to offer places to stay for those living near the fire and to collect donations of food and water for firefighters.

He added: “The local community has been utterly amazing.”

Public Health England has issued advice for residents, which warns them to close doors and windows if there is visible smoke and draw curtains to limit sunlight heating up homes.

PA Wire/PA Images
A helicopter drops water on the fire which could continue to burn for weeks 

They are also advised to keep hydrated, wear light clothing and use fans to recirculate air in the house.

Anyone with a heart or lung disease, such as asthma, is warned to ensure they have access to medication and seek medical advice by calling NHS 111 if symptoms worsen.

Dr William Welfare, consultant in health protection for Public Health England said: “Residents in areas affected by smoke should stay indoors, keep their doors and windows closed, and tune in to the local radio station for advice and information.

“Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed and switch air conditioning systems to recycle or recirculate air. 

“If people need to be outdoors, they are advised to avoid areas affected by any smoke or ash, or to limit the time that they spend in them.

“Smoke can irritate air passages, the skin and the eyes leading to coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain. It can also worsen existing problems such as asthma and people with asthma should carry their inhaler with them at all times. Anyone concerned about their symptoms should contact their GP or NHS 111.”

Experts have said the fire is generating tiny particles of pollution known as “particulate matter”, which can cause sore throats, eye irritation and breathing difficulties.

More than 100 firefighters are still tackling the blaze in Tameside, alongside 60 troops from the Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS), who were sent by the Ministry of Defence to help.

Crews were also tackling a second blaze in Winter Hill, near Bolton, overnight on Thursday.