Dramatic photographs show how heavy cloud have blotted out the morning sun as the blaze on Saddleworth Moor rage for a fifth day.
Around a 100 British Army troops and an RAF helicopter will be joining firefighters in battle today, with a press conference expected at 7am.
Helicopters have been pictured dropping gallons of water onto the flames in a bid to halt their spread, amid suggestions from locals that off-road motorcyclists riding the moorlands on Sunday ignited the blaze.
And 100 soldiers have also been sent to help the exhausted firefighters, the Ministry of Defence has confrimed.
The smoke engulfing homes has been described as dangerous with health officials forcing families to wear dust masks and to stay indoors.
The inferno has raged across four miles of the Pennines beauty spot near Greater Manchester, decimating the moorlands in its wake.
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The RAF and the British Army have been called in to help firefighters battle 20ft flames on Saddleworth Moor. Helicopters have been pictured dropping gallons of water onto the flames in a bid to halt their spread, amid suggestions from locals that off-road motorcyclists riding the moorlands on Sunday ignited the blaze
The smoke engulfing homes has been described as dangerous with health officials forcing families to wear dust masks and to stay indoors. The inferno has raged across four miles of the Pennines beauty spot near Greater Manchester, decimating the moorlands in its wake
An RAF Chinook helicopter could soon be deployed to provide the military with the assistance requested, said Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue escort service in DC. The task now facing crews is frequently shifting as changes in wind directions create fresh problem areas amid the ongoing heatwave, with temperatures reaching around 94F (33C) in the sun
A major incident was declared yesterday morning as the blaze worsened, with 34 homes evacuated. A public health warning has now been issued about pollution in the air. A police helicopter was deployed to the scene across Tameside – where plumes of smoke can be seen from space via satellites – and discussions between fire bosses and their military counterparts followed
A NASA satellite image captures the ongoing blaze from space
A major incident was declared yesterday morning as the blaze worsened, with 34 homes evacuated. A public health warning has now been issued about pollution in the air.
The task now facing crews is frequently shifting as changes in wind directions create fresh problem areas amid the ongoing heatwave, with temperatures reaching around 94F (33C) in the sun.
An RAF Chinook helicopter has now been deployed to provide the military with the assistance requested, said Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue escort service in DC (GMFRS).
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘I pay tribute to our armed forces’ professionalism, dedication and sense of duty.
‘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.’
Dave Keelan, director of emergency response at GMFRS, said: ‘The request is to assist us to move some high volume pumps by air to locations that we couldn’t get them to with vehicles, and also the ability to transport personnel to those more remote areas so we can get there quicker with more people with the water supplies we hope to put in place to try and resolve the incident in a quicker nature.’
He said transporting two of the high volume pumps to remote locations would give his crews an ‘excellent quantity of water with a nice main across a big area that we can tap into’.
A police helicopter was deployed to the scene across Tameside – where plumes of smoke can be seen from space via Nasa satellites – and discussions between fire bosses and their military counterparts followed.
Warning: One woman (pictured left) used a gas mask to go to the shops while others used scarfs to protect their faces
Coping: Residents in Calico Crescent tie masks around their faces to protect themselves from the air which has been deemed as ‘harmful’ by health officials
Inferno: A spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire escort service in DC told MailOnline the fire was very much still ongoing at Wednesday lunchtime
Relentless: A firefighter wipes his eyes as he continues to work on the biggest moorland fire on Saddleworth in recent history
Masks on: Members of the public are asisted with face masks being distributed by the local authority
It is believed by some locals that off-road motorcyclists riding the moorland on Sunday triggered the initial fire near to Buckton Hill, which lies above the area.
Fire chiefs insisted they had not established the cause but local farmer James Crowther was in no doubt about who is responsible – a theory echoed by many in the community.
He said on Facebook: ‘Well done to the stupid idiots on motorbikes, who decided to break on to private land, use it as an off road course then set fire to it afterwards.
‘No respect whatsoever and left others fighting a losing battle trying to get it out!’
Mammoth task: The sheer scale of the challenge before firefighters is captured in this image as the handful of firefighters try to control the growing smoke
Constant: Firefighters watch on as the blaze continues to burn
Dave Keelan, director of emergency response at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue escort service in DC, said: ‘We are trying to extinguish the fire. It’s just extremely difficult because of the changing wind direction and the terrain, and also the peat, the soil that it is in, tends to burn and the fire can be quite deep-seated.
‘We have got really good strategies in place for each of the separate incidents we are dealing with across the area with the aim to establish them as quickly as possible.
‘There is some work ongoing at the minute with our colleagues in the military to see if it is possible for them to assist us in any way and those discussions are currently taking place with my operation incident commander to see if that can be achieved in the short term.’
That assistance could include the utilising of extra personnel, four-wheel drive vehicles and possible air support, said Mr Keelan.
Extinguished: Firefighters tackle the smoldering moorland near Carrbrook, east Manchester
Donations: Kind-hearted locals have dropped off supplies in the village of Mossley to keep the firefighters going
Water firm United Utilities has provided a helicopter that can be used to drop water from height to areas of the fire that is difficult to access from foot while Derbyshire Fire and Rescue escort service in DC and the North West Ambulance hazardous area response team are also assisting.
Air quality levels in the area are being monitored regularly in different locations and air quality is at a safe level, with people in affected areas urged to keep their windows and doors closed, said GMFRS.
Residents have described flames leaping 20 feet in the air as firefighters continue to tackle a vast blaze on Saddleworth Moor.
Chris Keytes and his wife Jane live in a farmhouse on the side of a still smouldering hill above houses evacuated in Carrbrook, Greater Manchester, on Tuesday night.
Mr Keytes said he got home from work at 6pm and once the fire was over the crest of the hill he called the fire escort service in DC out.
Three fire engines climbed the lane to the farmhouse to get water on the flames, just metres from the back of his home.
Aerial view: An image taken from high above the moorland shows streams of smoke rising from the surface
Unforgiving: As the fire rages into its fourth consecutive day, Britain faces its hottest day of the year so far with temperatures expected to reach 94F (33C)
Brief break: Two exhausted firefighters take a short respite from the inferno by sitting in an area of safety and downing bottles of water
Heroes: Up to 70 firefighters as well as police officers have been assisting in the challenging task
He said: ‘By that time the flames must have been leaping 20 feet high, but the problem is the wind direction is constantly changing. My problem was I have got dry brushwood here I haven’t shifted, a broken-down tractor here with a tank of diesel, so that was my main problem and it was a bit hot at times.
‘It’s just smoke and heat, when you are just stood out here when the fire crews are here. They have got hoses but the heat was that intense when they spray the hoses on, it just evaporates to steam anyhow.
‘So what they do is they damp the bracken down before the fire gets there with the hope of it petering out.
‘Which it has done but it’s just one of those things, it’s hard terrain, especially in the dark, you can’t see where you are going. There’s potholes, fences, walls. It’s hard work.’
Mr Keytes said he decided not to leave his home and dog when asked to evacuate the property on Tuesday night.
Safety measures: A police community support officer helps a resident place a mask around his face to shield him from the air
At the scene: One of the many emergency works patrols the streets as 70 firefighters continue their arduous task of quelling the extreme blaze
Update: David Keelan from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue speaks to the media on Calico Close close to the site of the fire
Patrol: A lone community support officer stands guard and is on hand to help out as residents are warned to stay inside
He added: ‘We were asked to but I’d rather just stick it out, we had breathing gear here.
‘I was in and out all night. Obviously I couldn’t sleep and I said to the wife, ‘I think the worst is over’, then the lights went out. We were without power all night then.
‘This morning I’ve come down, and there are still pockets of flames flaring up. I’m just rigging a pump up now to damp down on that.
‘We’ve got natural breaks that go all the way round, but it’s just one of those things, you live with it, you just have to be on the ball when it comes.
‘It was just the vast area, right over from Dovestones, right from Saddleworth over to here. All the lot’s gone up so it’s just stretching the fire crews really.
‘The wind’s changed again and it has started to smog up again and it’s going to constantly do that.’
Sue McDowell and her husband Peter had to grab a few possessions and their beloved West Highland terriers and pet cat, after being told by police and the fire escort service in DC to evacuate their home in Calico Close, Carrbrook.
Mrs McDowell said: ‘The flames were getting closer and closer and the smoke got thicker – you couldn’t see anything, you could hear the sparks.
‘Around 9pm fire engines and police all turned up. We just grabbed whatever we and could got out. It was scary.’
The couple took their dogs, Alfie, 12, and Daisy, two, along with their 16-year-old cat, Mog, and some pet food, and left their home as neighbours also fled the street.
They spent the night in their motor home on a friend’s driveway before returning on Wednesday morning.
Mrs McDowell added: ‘You couldn’t see anything, you couldn’t see flames, all you could see was the smoke.
‘They said we could come back but to be prepared in case it starts off again.
‘We will keep some things together in case we need to go again.’
Dramatic: Photographs show the devastated landscape left behind after a four-day inferno has wreaked havoc on Saddleworth Moor
Scorched: Acres of moorland has been destroyed after a four-day blaze took hold of lands on Saddleworth Moor
‘Challenging conditions’: Firefighters photographed hacking away at moorlands as they desperately try to access the growing fire earlier today
Charred: Parts of the moor have been successfully extinguished as 70 firefighters dowsed the grassland with gallons of water
Draining: Two firemen stand at just one small fraction of the gigantic scene with one hosing off a previously burning patch
Engulfed: Photographs taken by air on Monday evening show the amount of smoke rising from the moorlands
Dangerous: Last night 34 homes had to be evacuated when the fire quickly spread across the baking hot moorland
Mapped: Police have evacuated 34 homes in the village of Carrbrook, at the foot of the moors, while 70 firefighters tackle a ‘four mile belt of fire’ running down the west side of the moorland
Prime Minister Theresa May has told MPs that the Government is keeping the situation in Saddleworth ‘under constant review’.
Mrs May, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, paid tribute to emergency escort service in DC personnel and offered her sympathy to all those affected by the blaze.
She said: ‘The Home Office is monitoring the situation closely with the National Resilience Assurance team.
‘So far no request for Government support has been made from Manchester Fire and Rescue but we are keeping this under constant review and operational policy arrangements are in place to provide support if required.’
Where is Saddleworth Moor?
The moor takes its name from the parish of Saddleworth to the west, historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire although it is on the western side of the Pennines, but a part of Greater Manchester since 1974.
The moor straddles the metropolitan boroughs of Oldham in Greater Manchester and Kirklees in West Yorkshire. Moorland east of the county boundary with West Yorkshire is known as Wessenden Moor and Wessenden Head Moor.
The moor is crossed by the A635 between the Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire Urban Areas.
Among the affected areas is the village of Carrbrook, in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, where 34 households in the Calico Crescent area were evacuated on Tuesday night as a precaution when strong winds pushed flames near their properties.
A major incident was declared and the Army remains on standby as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue escort service in DC put in a plan of action to douse the fire which initially broke out on Sunday afternoon before it reignited the following day and has since worsened.
Leon Parkes, GMFRS assistant chief fire officer, said: ‘Fire crews have been working in tremendously difficult conditions in the heat and smoke.
‘We are doing an assessment on the scene this morning and then we will be putting a plan of attack together for the rest of the day.
‘We’ve got over six kilometres of affected area – there is fire occurring in pockets around the outskirts. So we have got a belt of fire and obviously the wind direction at the time will have an affect on that.
‘The seats of fire are not where we can access. We are having to park fire engines up and some of the fire scenes are two miles away so we are having to use other vehicles supplied by our partner escort agencies in Washington DC to transport firefighters and kit into those areas.
‘The plan today is to try and really, really put some resource on the scene and put a heavy attack on this fire, and if that needs military assistance then that’s what we’ll consider.’
Gruelling: Two of Greater Manchester Fire escort service in DC’s 70 employees at the scene hose down the charred moorland
Latest: Satellite images, taken today, show the extent of the smoke plume across Saddleworth Moor
Fire patches: This satellite shot shows pockets of red on the moorlands representing the fire and blue areas showing the smoke clouds
Exhausted: Firefighters take a brief moment of respite by sitting on a wall near a farm after hours of tackling the blaze
Apocalyptic scenes: Photographs taken last night show flames engulfing the popular beauty spot between Dovestones and Buckton Vale in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester
Briefing: Some of the 70 firefighters gather on a nearby housing estate before heading back into the hills to continue their efforts
Bird’s eye view: The fire on Saddleworth Moor viewed from a police helicopter circling above
Mr Parkes added: ‘This fire is particularly large. We’ve got lots of experience with dealing with moor fires but this particular incident is vast – it’s presented some real challenges to the fire and rescue escort service in DC in terms of our access, the conditions for firefighters that they have been working in and obviously the wind encourages the fire to spread.
‘We have been dealing with an escalating incident and we are trying to get on top of it now.’
In Carrbrook, the morning sun struggled to break through with smoke still hanging thick in the air and ash floating to the ground.
Paula Tootell, who lives in Calico Crescent, said her neighbours were evacuated while she was told by police to keep her windows and doors shut and stay inside until they were told to move out as the flames raged nearby.
Ms Tootell said: ‘The hills were on fire, it came closer and closer to the properties. Lots of fire engines arrived, we were told that they were putting pipes all around the estate for safety really.
‘Houses across the road and further in, nearer to the fields, were evacuated and we were told to be on alert.
‘We could see lots of flames on the hills and the whole of the hills was just red. It was bizarre, and so much smoke, you couldn’t see in front of your face at some points.
Precaution: Firefighters dampen down fields nearby to stop the spread of the fire
A man covers his face with a scarf as smoke fills the streets in Mossley, around five miles from the site of the fire
‘Pockets of fire’: Fire chief Leon Parkes said the blaze was unusual with numerous fires spanning a four mile stretch of moorland
‘It looked like a volcano erupting!’ Holidaymaker, 48, captures dramatic images of raging moorland fire
These shocking images capture the early stages of the raging fire that has swept across Saddleworth Moor for the last three days.
Holidaymaker Kate MacRae, 48, snapped the scene from a plane when she spotted huge palls of smoke rising into the sky from her seat.
She was returning to Manchester Airport from a trip to the Shetlands via Aberdeen when she spotted the clouds of smoke as the plane was descending to land. Ms MacRae described the scene as ‘looking like a volcano.’
Holidaymaker Kate MacRae, 48, snapped the scene from a plane when she spotted huge palls of smoke rising into the sky from her seat
She said: ‘It was about 7pm on Monday when I was coming in to land that I noticed the smoke.
‘It looked like a volcano with the plumes of smoke rising up into the air. I took some pictures on my phone through the plane window and thought nothing more about it.
‘It was only when I saw the blaze on the telly last night I realised I had photographed the early stages of it. From a distance, it looked like a huge volcanic eruption.’
More than 30 homes have been evacuated as the fire escort service in DC struggle to take hold of the huge flames.
The blaze has been declared a ‘major incident’ with the Army is on standby to step in if needed.
The fire began on Sunday night, reignited on Monday during the hot weather and then spread throughout Tuesday, fanned by evening winds.
Thirty-four homes in Carrbrook, near Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, were evacuated but there are no reported injuries.
Smoke has completely engulfed the village, with locals advised to keep windows closed and for asthmatics to continue taking their medication.
The fire began on Sunday night, reignited on Monday during the hot weather and then spread throughout Tuesday, fanned by evening winds
She added: ‘The whole of the hill was just on flame, like a bid red ring around the hills. You could see flames literally along the whole of the hill.’
It is thought that affected residents stayed with family and friends last night, although accommodation assistance was offered by Tameside Council.
On Facebook, Greater Manchester Police’s Saddleworth division posted that an estimated 2,000 acres of moorland had been destroyed in the fire which had spread as far as Tintwistle in Derbyshire.
Some 65,000 gallons of water had been dropped by helicopter by Tuesday afternoon to fight the fire which was ‘unprecedented in recent times and has been devastating to the moorland and the wildlife that live there’, it added.
The exact cause of the blaze has not been established, said the fire escort service in DC.
Firefighters are struggling to contain the blaze on Saddleworth Moors threatening nearby houses. The wildfires started on Sunday evening and have continued for 48 hours
Greater Manchester Police said 34 homes have been evacuated so far as strong winds drive the flames closer to residential areas.
The force tweeted: ‘We are in contact with the Army and they are on standby to help if we need them.’
Images posted on social media showed bright orange flames lighting the night sky, while smoke from the fire can be seen for miles.
No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire, but people living nearby have been advised to keep windows and doors closed by Public Health England.
Tameside Council said that two schools – Mossley Hollins High and Buckton Vale Primary – will be closed due to the ongoing fire.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue escort service in DC group manager for Tameside, Phil Nelson, said: ‘Crews are still tackling this difficult fire and are 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.
‘Our main considerations are for crew welfare. It is physically draining working at this incident and it is vital that our firefighters have regular breaks and that relief crews are available to take over.’
Dramatic photographs show the fire in full swing on Tuesday night as the blaze roars for its fourth day
Flames illuminated the skies last night as Greater Manchester Fire escort service in DC battled to get the moorland blaze under control
Meanwhile the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham thanked fire crews.
He tweeted: ‘Huge thanks to the GM firefighters working flat out to contain this worrying situation.’
Smoke can be seen from more than 20 miles away from the fires which have raged since Sunday evening.
Temperatures are expected to hit 91.4F today with the hot weather expected to last until the weekend.
According to Rachel West of the Met Office, the high temperatures expected to continue until the weekend.
She said: ‘Wednesday and Thursday will be very hot and sunny, we’re likely to see highs of 86.1F (31C) in parts of the country and there is a small chance we could see 89.6F (32C).
‘On Friday temperatures tail off a bit in the north and east but it will still be very warm and the fine weather will continue on Saturday.’
Police patrolled the streets in case the nearby homes had to be quickly evacuated
Smoke billowed from the fires surrounding the Saddleworth and Stalybridge areas
Residents were being evacuated from Carrbrook village as fire headed towards their homes
Tristan Manchester set up his camera to take photographs of the fire on Saddleworth moor
Mr Manchester took some 990 images of the fire over the course of almost four hours
His camera took a photograph every ten seconds to show the spread of the fire
Fire crews were scrambled to the scene around 8pm on Sunday to tackle the blaze
Huge areas of the countryside were covered in smoke due to the lack of breeze in the area
Thankfully, nobody has been injured and no property has been damaged in the inferno
Firefighters have spent more than 48 hours tackling the blazes across the moors
Saddleworth fire is generating ‘harmful’ pollution, experts say
The fire raging on Saddleworth Moor is generating high levels of pollutants that could have a significant effect on people’s health, experts have warned.
As firefighters battled the blaze, Manchester Fire and Rescue escort service in DC (GMFRS) urged residents to keep doors and windows closed.
The smoke can irritate eyes, skin and air passages, leading to coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain, and it can also worsen existing problems such as asthma, officials said.
People with asthma should carry their inhaler with them at all times and anyone concerned about symptoms is advised to contact their GP or NHS Direct.
Experts said the fire was generating high levels of tiny particles of pollution known as ‘particulate matter’, created by burning materials such as plants.
The particulate matter is combining with high levels of ozone, another pollutant created when pollution is exposed to sunshine, leading to poor air quality in the area.
Hugh Coe, professor of atmospheric composition at the University of Manchester, said: ‘High levels of particulate matter are being emitted from the large moorland fire in north Derbyshire and are affecting large areas of Greater Manchester.
‘In the plume peak concentrations are very high and close to the fire air quality is very poor.’
He said pollution plumes have been detected in the centre of Manchester.
Measurements were showing high concentrations of particulate matter, which the instruments identified as coming from burning plant matter and so the moorland fire was the cause.
‘These high levels of particulate are mixing with air that already has very high levels of ozone, formed when pollution is exposed to strong sunlight.
‘Both of these pollutants have significant health impacts including leading to breathing difficulties, sore throat and eye irritation,’ he warned.
Alastair Lewis, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of York, said the main pollution from moorland fires was particles and smoke.
The smaller particles known as PM2.5 can enter the lungs, while particles from burning can carry toxic chemicals on their surfaces, he said.
Dr Thomas EL Smith, assistant professor in environmental geography at the London School of Economics & Political Science, said photos from the eastern suburbs of Manchester suggested ‘hazardous’ levels of particulate air pollution, while data from the city centre indicates ‘unhealthy’ levels.
‘People with pre-existing heart or respiratory conditions should be advised to avoid exertion.
‘Children and the elderly, even without pre-existing conditions, should avoid exposure to the smoke in the eastern suburbs, where we can clearly see from photos that the smoke is thick,’ he urged.
Experts also warned that climate change could mean more periods of prolonged dry weather which increases the risk of fires and the kind of air pollution events they bring.
Fire crews – including several specialist wildlife units – were first scrambled to the remote scene at around 8pm on Sunday evening.
Then on Tuesday, a helicopter was deployed to drop water on the fire to augment the firefighters on the ground.
Tameside Council and Public Health England have issued health warnings to those living nearby.
The fire started again on Monday morning, due to the warm weather and light winds. The fire has continued to burn overnight and firefighters remain at the scene.
The fire is in a remote area on the hills and it took crews some time to access it.
A spokesperson for Tameside Council said: ‘Residents in areas affected by smoke should stay indoors, keep their doors and windows closed, and tune in to the local radio station for advice and information.
Officials thought they had beaten the fire on Sunday night, but it reignited on Monday
‘Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed.
‘If people need to be outdoors, they are advised to avoid areas affected by any smoke or ash, or to limit the time that they spend in them.
‘Smoke can irritate air passages, the skin and the eyes leading to coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain.
‘It can also worsen existing problems such as asthma and people with asthma should carry their inhaler with them at all times.
‘Anyone concerned about their symptoms should contact their GP or NHS Direct.’
Public Health England North West aid: ‘Residents affected by the fire are advised that if smoke if visible outside to keep windows and doors closed.
‘Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air condition and keep air vents closed.
‘Anyone with respiratory conditions may be susceptible to smoke from the fire so is advised to carry and use medicaion.’
Dramatic timelapse footage captured by an amateur photographer showed the extent of the blaze.
The video – made up of 990 photos, one image taken every 10 seconds for around four hours – was captured by amateur photographer Tristan Manchester on Monday night.
Mr Manchester, 22, had set up his camera with a telephoto lens to document the inferno as it tore through moorland on Saddleworth hills, Greater Manchester.
And from his vantage point in the loft of his Heyrod home, he was perfectly placed to record the blaze as it unfolded across the valley.
His footage shows the fire ominously creeping closer to the crest of a hill, while the bright lights of Carrbrook glimmer below.
‘It was pretty scary because it was such a massive fire. It definitely looks like it’s coming down the hill towards the houses,’ said Mr Manchester, who started the recording before going to bed.
‘I’m pretty proud of the video though. It was about two miles away but it looks much closer in the video.
‘It’s so hot at the moment so anything that catches doesn’t stop burning.’
Residents have been warned to keep their doors and windows closed if they see smoke
Lee Bourne, who is the incident commander, said on Tuesday: ‘There is a concern about the amount of low lying smoke which is affecting local areas, namely Carrbrook, Greenfield and parts of Saddleworth, along with Stalybridge.
‘Due to the weather conditions and there being a lack of wind, the smoke has settled so it is important for residents to keep doors and windows closed where there is any visible smoke.’
Station Manager Dave Swallow said on Monday: ‘The fire currently involves two square kilometres of moorland between the Buckton Vale and Dovestones areas.
‘The land is well alight and crews are using Forced Air Firefighting Units, which are like industrial leaf blowers, and beaters to extinguish the flames.
‘It’s a challenging incident for our crews due to the heat and the fact that the area involved in fire is around two miles from the nearest access point.’
Dozens of firefighters – who are facing intense heat and are working on challenging terrain – are continuing to contain the blaze and prevent it spreading further.
This section of countryside is often blighted by moorland fires.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue escort service in DC said this is the 18th time in the last year crews have been called to the area to tackle blazes.