NEWS
02/07/2018 10:01 BST | Updated 02/07/2018 11:02 BST

Arsonists Seen Lighting Fires As Saddleworth Moor Fire Rages On

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service described it as 'absolutely heartbreaking and unbelievable'.

Arsonists have been spotted lighting new fires near Bolton as a huge fire continues to burn across the Pennine Moors in Lancashire. 

Described as “absolutely heartbreaking and unbelievable” by Tony Crook from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, police are now said to be on the scene to arrest those responsible. 

Speaking to Sky News, Crook said the perpetrators were putting “yourselves at risk, your community at risk, and also putting emergency workers at risk”.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the sighting to HuffPost UK on Monday, saying that the suspected arsonists were spotted on Sunday when a police helicopter was sent to survey the area.  

On Friday police arrested a 22-year-old man from Bolton in connection with a moorland fire at Winter Hill in Lancashire.

He was arrested on suspicion of arson with “intent to endanger life”.

Seventeen fire engines remained at the blaze on Winter Hill, near Bolton, overnight ahead of a full operation resuming this morning. 

Up to 100 firefighters have been deployed to tackle the blaze that began on Thursday and merged with a fire around Scout Road to the south on Saturday leading to a major incident being declared. 

Seven square miles of land between Tameside and Oldham has gone up in flames since the fire broke out on June 24. 

Other fire brigades from across the country - including Tyne and Wear, the South West, Nottinghamshire, Humberside and Warwickshire - are involved in the operation along with the military. 

Phil Noble / Reuters
A firefighter tackles a moorland fire at Winter Hill, near Rivington, on Sunday

The Ministry of Defence said the army would remain on Saddleworth Moor this week following a request by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on Friday. 

Speaking at the scene on Friday, acting chief fire officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service, Dawn Docx, said the hot weather made it hard to establish how long emergency services will need to stay at the scene.

“Currently it is being contained, but we can’t say when it will be extinguished,” she said, of the fire that has raged since Sunday, engulfing some seven square miles.

“It could be days, it might even be weeks. This weather, obviously isn’t helping at all. What we need is a real downpour and that will do the trick.”

Met Office weather forecaster Helen Roberts told Sky News that the hot spell was set to continue and that showers due in the next few days may not reach the moors. 

“The trend is for dry and very warm weather, which is far from ideal,” she said.

“Thunderstorms in the South West are unlikely to reach that far north.

“On Wednesday, there is the potential for showers in that vicinity but it could be a one-off, isolated and unlikely to hit the area.”