Fire bosses have been left furious by moorland visitors who have been lighting new fires near a massive blaze that has been raging for days.
One person has been apprehended for starting a fire near the large and stubborn wildfire at Winter Hill near Bolton.
More than 20 fire engines were at the scene in Lancashire as the firefighting operation resumed at dawn on Monday.
Crews have been battling the inferno for days and declared a major incident on Saturday after two moorland fires merged, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Tony Crook, area manager for Lancashire Fire Service, said people have been seen lighting new fires as crews try to contain the wildfire.
He said: “A United Utilities helicopter which was dropping off water at Healey Nab found people lighting fires in the vicinity in the area where the fire was already burning.”
“They alerted us here, we called the officers in the police helicopter nearby and they apprehended somebody. In a separate incident, fire crews near Scout Moor Road had to stamp out a fire which they saw people lighting, in an unmolested part of vegetation.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking. All these people are deployed for the safety of people, never mind the damage to the environment It causes.”
Lancashire Police said it has had to deal with "reckless and dangerous" behaviour by members of the public which is hampering emergency efforts.
Some people, determined to get shots of the fire on their mobile phones, have blocked access roads for emergency vehicles by driving to the scene, while others have been flying drones over the moorland.
One man thought it would be a good idea to walk across police tape to get closer to the fire. It wasn’t.
He ‘wandered’ up to Pike Tower, where firefighters were working to hold back a fire close to Winter Hill, and promptly collapsed from smoke inhalation.
In a Facebook post. Chorley Police called the man ‘Johnny’.
Posting a picture of him collapsed on the ground being treated, they said: “Johnny ignored our advice and decided to go past our scene tape and wander to the Pike Tower, where firefighters were holding the fire.
“Johnny collapsed from smoke inhalation. Luckily for Johnny, police and mountain rescue were on hand to rescue him.
“This could have ended very differently for Johnny as emergency services cannot be everywhere up there. Please follow our advice and stay away from the area.”
There’s also been a report of a member of the public who ignored road and footpath closures and had an asthma attack.
There have been reports of people using drones to capture images of the wildfire.
A force spokesman said: “These incidents have obstructed emergency services and presented a clear public safety issue.”
Meanwhile, a "large-scale attack" was launched against the "rapidly developing, aggressive fire" on Sunday.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) said it had increased the number of fire engines at the scene from 17 to 22 as the full-scale operation began again at first light.
"These fire engines are continuing to focus on hotspots around the 8km (5mi) site," the fire service tweeted.
Helicopters were brought in as the operation sought to douse smouldering hot spots and soak nearby woodland to avoid fire taking hold.
LFRS has been assisted at the Winter Hill blaze by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), which itself has been tackling a large-scale wildfire on Saddleworth Moor.
Paul Etches, head of prevention at GMFRS, warned the moorland fires were "not going away" and it would take "many more days of intense sweat and effort" to extinguish them.
"Our firefighters are tired but optimistic that we continue to make good progress," he said.
The fire near Stalybridge, Tameside, began on June 24 and reignited the following day before rapidly spreading.
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GMFRS tweeted that it had been an "extraordinary weekend".
"The incident at Tameside rolls into a second week, while we continue to work with @LancashireFRS in Bolton," it added.
Fire brigades from across the country, including from Tyne and Wear, the South West, Nottinghamshire, Humberside and Warwickshire travelled to the North West to assist with the effort.
However they are working in hot conditions with "no significant rain forecast this week", according to Met Office forecaster Helen Roberts.
She said: "The trend is for dry and very warm weather, which is far from ideal. 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."
"Thursday is similar and any showers would be isolated and fleeting. There is no significant rain forecast this week."
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