A huge fire broke out in Parkgate early this evening and police suspect that it was deliberately started.
Crews maintained fire breaks in two areas. Two main jets and one light portable pump were in use. The fire on the marshland is being left to burn because of unstable ground. During the evening, the incident attendance was reduced to five fire engines.
Station Manager Carl Nevitt is the officer in charge of the incident. He explains, “The marshland is a site of special scientific interest. The fire is covering around one square kilometre of the area and is being driven by wind.
“We have created fire breaks to protect properties and the police air support unit has been used to give us information on the directional spread of the blaze.
“We expect to remain at the scene for at least the next three to four hours and would ask that people stay away from the area as we tackle the fire.”
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) crews were at the scene from 6:23pm.
A spokesperson for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) said during the early response to the fire, “Firefighters are tackling a blaze involving around 500 square metres of marshland [later much larger]. Four fire engines from Cheshire and two from Merseyside are at the scene.
“Crews are using beaters and hose reel jets to fight the fire.
“There are two areas of fire spreading around the marshland.
“Fire breaks have been put in place to protect nearby properties. Two main jets and hose reels are in use.
“Police have been advised as it is suspected that the fire has been started deliberately. A fire investigator will also attend.
“One fire engine from Powey Lane, one from Ellesmere Port, two from Chester and two from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service are in attendance.”
A police cordon was in place to keep crowds of onlookers away from the scene. Thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the sky.
One early eyewitness, Peter Guy, said, “Looks like the marshes are on fire – it’s absolutely huge and is getting bigger.
“Caught fire so quickly and is spreading right up Parkgate parade.”
As the fire developed, he continued, “Vast fire at Parkgate now about 500m and growing. Lots of wildlife being destroyed. Quite unbelievable how quickly it has spread. Emergency services just arriving.”
As dusk turned to nighttime, the sky could be seen “burning orange.”
At about 8pm, BBC News reporter, John Ironmonger, said that the fire had “reached the back gardens of some houses.”
In an update shortly after 9pm, a CFRS spokesperson said, “Firefighters are continuing to tackle the fire. Relief crews will be taking over at the scene overnight. Holyhead coastguard is also monitoring the incident.”
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Main image with thanks to AndyParry on Twitter