BOOKS and a memorial bench are some of the items used to start fires on Crompton Moor during the blisteringly hot recent dry spell.
Now Friends of Crompton Moor (FCM) have taken action to try and minimise the risk of the major blazes which have ravaged moor land in Saddleworth and Tameside.
Greater Manchester fire fighters, with back up from across the country plus the Army, have spent nearly three weeks tackling a succession of outbreaks across the area.
So there was much rejoicing among emergency services when the weather broke recently to provide much needed rain.
However, Crompton Moor is still being monitored after fire starters targeted the beauty spot.
As a preventative action the barrier gate at Shore Edge has been closing earlier than usual – between 6pm and 7.30pm until further notice.
This temporary measure has been introduced to keep Crompton Moor safe from fire.
A spokesperson for Friends of Crompton Moor told the Correspondent: “We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause regular users of the moor.
“But please rest assured this is only a temporary measure until we get enough rain to saturate the ground once more.
“Young people, and young adults, have been seen starting fires on Crompton Moor deliberately.
“Some have done it maliciously, wanting to see as much of it to burn as possible, by lighting the fire in different areas to make it spread.
“Children from local schools have been burning their books to celebrate their end of term.
“A number of young people and adults have used the warm weather as an excuse to come up and camp in the woods and have been lighting large campfires.
“But by far the worst danger has come from many barbecues being lit.
“Someone even used a memorial bench as a base for their barbeque.
“Camp fires and barbecues, even gas stoves, on open moorland are illegal.
“Members of FCM have been vigilant by going up on the moors in the evenings to fire watch.
“First Response has put on special patrols in the area to assist.
“FCM are more than grateful for the assistance and support that we continue to receive.
“Uncontrolled deep-seated fires are devastating to everything special about the moors; important wildlife, the rare heather habitat, the beautiful landscape, the carbon locked up in the peat soils, the quality of water out of your taps and the socio-economic glue of our rural communities.
“All wildfires are caused by human carelessness. Smouldering cigarette ends, discarded bottles and dropped matches are all dangers.
“Everyone needs to be aware that periods of hot, dry weather pose a high risk of wildfire and open access moorland may need to be closed.
“Evening visits to the moor have increased with many users wanting to picnic and have barbecues.
“This is extremely dangerous when the grass and other vegetation are so dry.
“Crompton Moor is still open to visitors but can only be accessed on foot in the evenings.
“Please be careful when visiting this site. Make sure litter is deposited in the bins or removed from site; take care with cigarettes and don’t throw the stubs into the grass; and don’t light fires of any description.”
Anyone who sees broken or empty glass bottles lying on the ground can help by putting them in the nearest bin.
If you see a fire, or smoke, phone 999 immediately and ask for the Fire Brigade. The nearest postcode for reference for Crompton Moor is OL2 8LS.