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'Significant Improvement' As Soldiers Help Battle Saddleworth Moor Fire

100 troops and an RAF helicopter had been deployed to help battle blazes near Greater Manchester...

WATCH: the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland assist firefighters in tackling the Saddleworth Moor fires.

Fire chiefs battling "apocalyptic" wildfires on the Pennine moors say there has been a "significant improvement" as the Army began to help.

Scottish soldiers from A Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, known as the Highlanders, have now joined more than 100 firefighters who have been battling the blaze since Sunday.

A major incident has been declared, with around 40 homes evacuated on Tuesday as seven square miles of Saddleworth Moor has gone up in flames, blanketing the Greater Manchester region and beyond in smoke and ash.

Saddleworth Moor fire 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland

Major Phil Morgan, commanding the Army detachment, said: "We meet every challenge and commit 100% in what we do.

"Currently we have broken our boys down into various locations and we are beating the fire with paddles and we are supporting them by moving equipment, we are putting water on the fires and we are doing everything we can to stop this fire at the moment.

"We are truly really happy and excited to be here and the boys are cherishing every moment of it."

Saddleworth Moor fire 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland

Tony Hunter, assistant chief fire officer of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), said they have used high-tech equipment, helicopters dropping water and backbreaking work using paddles to beat out the flames.

He said there had been a "significant effect" on the blaze in the past 24 hours and work was continuing with the help of the Army.

"We have made significant improvements but I would put an air of caution there though, we had a similar occasion yesterday where we thought we were on top of it and it flared up."

Mr Hunter cautioned that while the fire was now "contained and under control" he said "things can develop" and if the wind blows the flames back on to the moors it will act as a "fuel source" for the fire.

He said the operation could last for weeks before the fire burns itself out, though the Army deployment is for an initial 48 hours.

Troops from 4 SCOTS arrive to help firefighters on Saddleworth Moor
Picture: PA

Earlier today, an RAF Chinook helicopter was stood down after GMFRS notified the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that it was no longer required to help firefighters.

RAF Wing Commander Tony Lane said service personnel will provide valuable backup to the fire service

"I think we are looking at one firefighter to three or four troops, so they can provide extra manpower to go and support them."

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said it is a display of British troops protecting the UK.

"They are proving once again that Britain can always depend on our troops to protect us no matter the time, no matter the place, and no matter the problem."

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Hunter from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said the military will provide "effective support and additional resources".

The fires, which have been declared a major incident, started on Sunday and have devastated land around Carrbrook.

Saddleworth Moor fires
Picture: PA

Phil Nelson from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said the crews have been 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.

Problems faced included frequent changes in wind direction, the peat-embedded terrain which requires large quantities of water to extinguish flames and the searing temperatures.

Helicopter dumps water on Saddleworth Moor fire
Picture: PA

Firefighters have been using beaters and specialist wildfire equipment to tackle the flames.

Greater Manchester Police have also deployed a helicopter to assess the scene and United Utilities provided a helicopter that has been used to drop water on to remote areas.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Hunter, of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, told reporters the situation is extremely deceiving.

"It looks like it's smouldering away, which it is doing, but with a pick up of the wind we could see pockets being established - we need to keep on top of it"

Picture: Saddleworth Fire SWN
Picture: South West News Service

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Hunter said what they needed most to end the blaze was rain but none has been forecast.