Beaters are one method being used to fight the Rakes Moss fire. Photo: Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service

Beaters are one method being used to fight the Rakes Moss fire. Photo: Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service

Peak District national park bosses have repeated the message to stay at home this weekend as the coronavirus lockdown continues.

The area is also at an increased risk of wildfires after a prolonged warm, dry period.

Visitor facilities including public toilets, car parks and information centres remain closed in support of social distancing guidance, the authority said.

A spokesperson for the Peak District National Park Authority said: “As the country experiences more than a month of ‘lockdown’ measures and an extended period of unseasonably fine weather, we fully understand that many people will be naturally be feeling frustrated and with an increased temptation to travel and get away.

“However, the government’s advice remains unchanged and it is still just as important for everyone to abide by the current measures and stay at home.

“The spring and summer brings with it the challenges of wildfires in any year, but with significant pressures already on our emergency services at the moment, this is one completely avoidable factor we can all help with by staying away.

“We know from our social media channels and messages how much people are missing the Peak District, but we have also been incredibly heartened by the positivity of those who have acknowledged the need to stay local, and that a return to the national park will be all the more special when it is right to do so.”

The wildfire has destroyed moorland above Crowden. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The wildfire has destroyed moorland above Crowden. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Proof of the need to heed the advice came with a large moorland fire near the Pennine Way on Rakes Moss above Crowden on the Woodhead Pass.

Firefighters have been tackling the blaze since about 10am on Thursday, with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service joined by colleagues from Greater Manchester, along with the landowners United Utilities and gamekeepers.

Two helicopters have been used to drop water on the fire, and firefighters are expected to work until nightfall to try to contain and extinguish the blaze. The fire service said they expect to resume the operation at 6am on Saturday.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service wildfire tactical advisor, Group Manager Steve Wells said: “Crews will continue to work on the moorland until the fire has been extinguished.

“Over the last 24 hours we have used a combination of beaters, specialist Argo cat vehicles which have a high pressure hose and two helicopters to fight the fire and contain its spread.

“While the smoke form the fire has reduced considerably, residents in Stalybridge are still advised to keep their windows and doors closed as a precaution.

“With the weekend looming, I would also like to remind people to avoid the area and adhere to current government Covid-19 advice to stay at home, except for essential journeys.”

Fire crews from Glossop, Staveley, Bakewell, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Buxton, Rochdale, Littleborough, Bury and Stalybridge have been involved in the operation.

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