The Army has been called in to help firefighters battle a huge ‘belt of fire’ spreading cross moorlands in Greater Manchester.
Dozens of homes were evacuated after the blaze measuring four miles long developed on Saddleworth Moor overnight.
On Tuesday, emergency services struggled to contain the fire, with the police declaring it a “major incident”.
Residents have described flames leaping 50ft in the air.
Matt Lomas, 76, who was evacuated with his family, told the BBC: “We could see flames 50ft high like a raging ball of fire all on the hill side.”
On Tuesday, people in the Calico Crescent area of Carrbrook, in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, were advised to leave their properties as firefighters battled flames.
The blaze started on Sunday and reignited the next day amid Britain’s heatwave and has devastated land around Carrbrook.
Greater Manchester Police said 34 homes have been evacuated so far as strong winds drive the flames closer to residential areas.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it had asked for military assistance.
The force tweeted: “We are in contact with the Army and they are on standby to help if we need them.”
Images posted on social media showed bright orange flames lighting the night sky, while smoke from the fire can be seen for miles.
No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire, but people living nearby have been advised to keep windows and doors closed by Public Health England.
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Chris Keytes and his wife Jane live in a farmhouse on the side of a still smouldering hill above houses evacuated in Carrbrook, Greater Manchester, on Tuesday night.
Mr Keytes said he got home from work at 6pm and once the fire was over the crest of the hill he called the fire service out.
Three fire engines climbed the lane to the farmhouse to get water on the flames, just metres from the back of his home.
He said: “The problem is the wind direction is constantly changing.
“It’s just smoke and heat, when you are just stood out here when the fire crews are here. They have got hoses but the heat was that intense when they spray the hoses on, it just evaporates to steam anyhow.
“So what they do is they damp the bracken down before the fire gets there with the hope of it petering out.
“Which it has done but it’s just one of those things, it’s hard terrain, especially in the dark, you can’t see where you are going. There’s potholes, fences, walls. It’s hard work.”
Mr Keytes said he decided not to leave his home and dog when asked to evacuate the property on Tuesday night.
He added: “We were asked to but I’d rather just stick it out, we had breathing gear here.
“I was in and out all night. Obviously I couldn’t sleep and I said to the wife, ‘I think the worst is over’, then the lights went out. We were without power all night then.
“This morning I’ve come down, and there are still pockets of flames flaring up. I’m just rigging a pump up now to damp down on that.”
Tameside Council said that two schools – Mossley Hollins High and Buckton Vale Primary – will be closed due to the ongoing fire.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service group manager for Tameside, Phil Nelson, said: “Crews are still tackling this difficult fire and are working hard to contain the blaze and prevent further fire spread.
“Firefighters are faced with very difficult circumstances, intense heat and are working on challenging terrain.
“Our main considerations are for crew welfare. It is physically draining working at this incident and it is vital that our firefighters have regular breaks and that relief crews are available to take over.”
Meanwhile the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham thanked fire crews.
He tweeted: “Huge thanks to the GM firefighters working flat out to contain this worrying situation.”
Speaking about the overnight operation to battle the Saddleworth Moor fire, Leon Parkes, assistant chief fire officer with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Fire crews have been working in tremendously difficult conditions in the heat, smoke, working with our partner agencies.
“A number of actions were put in place including the evacuation of nearby houses because of the spread of the fire.
“We are doing an assessment on the scene this morning. We have 10 fire engines with 50 fire fighters.
“The evacuation was just over 30 homes last night, there were a number of other homes at threat of fire, however we put additional services in that area so I hope we’ve quelled that risk.
“The area is really, really large – it’s a really difficult fire situation because of the size of it, some of the feedback we’ve received is that it’s over 6km.
“Clearly the challenges are enormous. We have firefighters working in really, really hot conditions. They’re doing everything they can to control that fire.
“We’ve got over 6km of affected area – there is fire occurring in pockets around the outskirts. The plan today is to try and really really put some resource on the scene, and put a heavy attack on this fire – if that needs military assistance, that’s what we’ll consider.
“This fire is particularly large. We’ve got lots of experience with dealing with moor fires.
“But this particular incident is vast – it’s presented some real challenges to the fire and rescue service in terms of access, the conditions for firefighters, and obviously the wind encourages the fire to spread.”
He said it had not been established what might have caused the fire.