DAY 1 ~ FRIDAY 29 APRIL
"It's a wind up!" That was my first thought as my mobile phone rang less than 15 minutes before the Wedding Service of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton was about to begin. "This will be a certain person from the Salvation Army winding me up", I said to my wife. Sure enough, when I looked at the display on my mobile phone there is was, writ large - SALVATION ARMY. "Are you available?" said the voice at the other end. Joke! But sure enough it wasn't a joke, and so before the trumpet fanfares could begin, my wife and I were mobile to Whitefield Fire Station to pick up SACU 'A' before heading to the R.V. point on the Car Park at Crookfield Road at its junction with Belmont Road ~ 10 pumps plus specials. As usual, when I booked mobile with Fire Control, I verified the number of pumps to make sure we were taking sufficient stock. Still 10 pumps. That was a good sign. The wind was particularly strong that morning and the fact that it remained at 10 pumps was a good sign. However, by the time we arrived around noon, the incident had increased to 13 then 15 pumps and ultimately to 17 pumps later in the afternoon. I have calculated that at one stage we had around 36 appliances in attendance. With the arrival of the 16th and 17th pumps came 9 relief pumps, making 26. With specials and support pumps including some more reliefs, the total reached 36, albeit for a fairly short time as some of the first crews soon began to leave the incident. At this particular time there were 4 pumps and L6V from Greater Manchester, which were joined by 3 relief pumps. All other appliances came from Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service.
When we first arrived, Belmont Road was shut beyond the Crookfield Road junction heading along the A675 towards the M65 as the fire was very close to the road as the first pictures below illustrate. However, it was also evident that the wind had taken the fire some distance over the moors and out of sight. Indeed, when we were relieved late in the afternoon, Belmont Road had been reopened, and there was little sign of any fire, with just smouldering pockets visible on the moors facing us. Beyond our line of sight, the situation was deteriorating as the fire spread further and further towards Rivington, Anglezarke & White Coppice, and despite the deployment of a helicopter and crews working throughout that night, it was a losing battle in those very strong winds, and eventually the fire reached the plantations on the moors above Anglezarke. This was going to be a protracted incident. There was no sign of any rain, in fact the weather was set to improve over the coming Bank Holiday weekend, although the strong winds were to remain.
Over the coming weekend, Lancashire was to have 3 major incidents plus innumerable smaller incidents that were to stretch the service to its limits, whilst at the same time maintaining general fire cover. Indeed it is well documented elsewhere, that similar protracted incidents broke out across the United Kingdom, making this period one of the busiest in recent fire service history.
Because of the large number of appliances attending the Lancashire incidents, I have decided to record the pictures that I took in a daily diary.
The first pictures below, showing
the fire and the burned moorland were all taken from the R.V. point using
a telephoto lens.
Obviously with such a large number of fire-fighters
in attendance, we were kept quite busy on the Catering Unit. However,
as and when time permitted, I managed to photograph a selection of the
36 appliances that attended. They are presented more or less in the
order that I took them.
The main contact point was the Command Support Unit PO59ODR from Lancaster but currently operating out of Fulwood.
The support pump was PN09PYT from Fulwood.
MV53EXO from Bolton North also remained at the R.V. point.
MH04FJA from Bolton Central.
Another telephoto shot with X142RFV from Darwen on the left and PJ52FMP from Chorley on the right.
PF04UXN from Penwortham..
PJ52FMF from Hyndburn.
L4V S794LRN from Darwen.
T128BCK from Great Harwood.
The transporter for the Softrak vehicle, KE07EHJ from Rawtenstall.
T124BCK was a reserve appliance on the run at Bacup.
X142RFV again, from Darwen.
L4V P793XFV from Lancaster.
The first interesting pairing of the day showing PO55WDV from Blackburn with PN05EHF from Broughton behind.
A closer shot of PN05EHF from Broughton which came as a relief pump.
MV53EXL from Chadderton was also a relief pump.
Y538XEO from Padiham.
X146RFV from Hyndburn.
PL06OVY from Nelson.
W138BRN just arriving from Clitheroe.
Tarleton had reserve appliance T129BCK on the run.
Having recently come 'off the run' at Bury, MF51EXS was running as a reserve at Bolton Central.
PO56VGX from Blackpool.
PN08UWY from Manchester Central heading to the moors on relief duties,
Possibly the most interesting pairing of the day was Manchester Central and Blackpool together.
The arrival of PJ52FMO from Earby.
[An additional picture has been added to the Earby page.]
PO56VGT from St. Annes.
PL06OWA from Darwen.
CSU PO56TVY normally based at Fulwood but currently at Lancaster was seen arriving on relief duty.
PL06OVZ from Lancaster was support pump for the relief CSU.
L6P T271MBA from Bolton North.
PN52VJM from Bamber Bridge.
PN57AOU from Farnworth heading for home station.
SACU 'A' from Whitefield shortly before we left the incident.
We were relieved by SACU 'B' from Salford.
Water bombing on Friday evening.
[Copyright pictures ~ S. Blackledge and reproduced with permission.]
SUNDAY 1 MAY