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Saddleworth Moor fire: Crews tackle huge blaze

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Media captionThe fire on Saddleworth Moor can be seen for miles around

Fire crews are tackling a huge blaze on Saddleworth Moor in West Yorkshire.

The fire, described by one witness as “apocalyptic, started at about 19:30 GMT on Tuesday and covers about 1.5 sq km of land near Marsden.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said it was “one of the biggest moorland fires we’ve ever had to deal with”.

It comes as the UK broke the record for the warmest winter day for a second time and on the same day as a gorse fire on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

Saddleworth incident commander Laura Boocock said a number of crews and specialist moorland firefighting units had spent the night tackling the blaze and extra pumps have been sent this morning.

There have been no reports of any injuries and the A62 between Colne Valley and Diggle has been reopened.

Ms Boocock said: “It is quite dramatic to see but it is nothing we can’t deal with.”

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BBC Yorkshire climate correspondent Paul Hudson said that, like much of the UK, the region had faced unseasonal winter temperatures.

He said: “These kind of temperatures – 18C or 19C – are what you would normally see in early June.

“There’s been a prolonged abnormally warm spell and we’ve also had an exceptionally dry start to 2019.

“The temperature on Wednesday is also set to be pretty similar.”

The Edinburgh gorse fire broke out at a similar time on Tuesday, and two large fires started within an hour of each other in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex earlier.

At the scene

By Ian White, BBC News, Saddleworth Moor

Speaking to one witness here, they said to me, “Imagine what the world would look like when it’s ending – this is what it would look like.”

You can see the glow for miles around, with flames leaping into the air.

People normally in bed have come out specially to witness this at first hand.

There’s a smell of smoke in the air, but it’s not too bad visibility wise.

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Nick Lawton

In June and July last year, firefighters from 20 different brigades were drafted in to help tackle two huge moorland fires which burnt for several weeks.

Firefighters spent more than a month battling a huge fire covering 18 sq km (6.9 sq miles) at Winter Hill, near Bolton.

The Army was drafted in to help Greater Manchester crews deal with a blaze on Saddleworth Moor in Tameside.

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