4 SCOTS fighting Saddleworth Moor fire 0718

Troops Stood Down On Saddleworth Moor

Around 100 troops from the Royal Regiment of Scotland have been involved in the operation, but the order for military support will not be...

4 SCOTS fighting Saddleworth Moor fire 0718

Troops assisting crews battling moorland fires in Tameside have been stood down, the Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester has announced.

Beverley Hughes, deputy mayor for Policing, Crime and Fire, said the order for military support was not being extended into the weekend as firefighters are making good progress.

Army troops assisting firefighters tackling a blaze on Saddleworth Moor, about 30 miles from Winter Hill, were stood down on Friday after nine days of carrying out work including digging trenches in an effort to stop the fires spreading.

Around 100 troops from the Royal Regiment of Scotland have been involved in the operation, but the order for military support will not be extended into the weekend.

On Wednesday, our reporter Amy Matthews was on the ground with the troops:

Major Phil Morgan, Officer Commanding Alpha Company 4 SCOTS, said: "Not only has the task been completed but we have strengthened the bonds that already exist between the Army and our civilian partners.

"It's been a real privilege to be involved in this firefighting effort.

"It has been a demanding but truly worthwhile task and my soldiers have met the challenge with absolute commitment and pride in their role, showing they are always ready to serve.

"We'd like to thank all of the agencies who have made our job easier, in particular GMFRS for its leadership and the wider community for making us feel so welcome."

4 SCOTS fighting Saddleworth Moor fire 0718

Beverley Hughes said the council is "extremely grateful to the Royal Regiment of Scotland troops for their support". She added:

"Today there are 11 GMFRS fire crews at the Tameside incident and good progress is being made - so much so that officers hope to be able to release crews from most of the other services by the weekend, with just a small number of special appliances and fire engines from Cheshire remaining for support."

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who visited crews on the scene on Friday morning, said: "I wanted to come here again today to say a huge thank you to all the crews fighting this fire, including crews from Greater Manchester, Lancashire and many other fire and rescue services.

"They are working incredibly hard and the public are so grateful for their efforts.

"Following assessments of the incident ground on the Greater Manchester side of the hill yesterday, and in consultation with LFRS, today we are able to scale back some of GMFRS's resources from that area.

"Good progress is being made and over the weekend there will be five GMFRS appliances supporting Lancashire."

A 20-year-old man who was arrested over a major moorland blaze has been released under investigation.

The man, from Wigan, was arrested on Friday morning by officers investigating the fire on Winter Hill, near Bolton.

He was being held on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

A 22-year-old man was also arrested last week on suspicion of starting one of the fires and later released under investigation.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said the investigation is continuing.

Fire chiefs declared a major incident last Saturday after two large-scale blazes either side of Winter Hill merged because of increased wind speed.