Coronavirus: Fire boss 'astonished' at moorland barbecues

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image sourceAnthony Devlin/Getty Images
image captionFirefighters spent three weeks tackling a large blaze near Saddleworth Moor in 2018

A fire service boss said he is "astonished" by large groups gathering for barbecues on the moors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said people were meeting to cook food despite a ban on moorland barbecues after huge fires in 2018.

Fire station manager Dave Swallow said their actions were "dangerous" and urged people to stick to the rules.

"It's just amazing how many people don't seem to be getting the importance of the social distancing guidelines," said Mr Swallow.

"It's astonishing when you to throw in the fact that people are taking disposable barbecues out there and cooking."

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Oldham Council approved a public space protection order (PSPO) in September 2019 after moorlands in Greater Manchester were devastated by wild fires.

A large blaze near Saddleworth Moor took three weeks to be put out in the summer of 2018.

In April 2019, up to 50 firefighters were needed to tackle a blaze that broke out on Saddleworth Moor overnight.

image sourcePA
image captionFirefighters have warned of the dangers of ignoring warnings about using barbecues

In recent days, the fire service has already been called to a number of small grass fires and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service had to tackle a blaze at Deer Hill Reservoir in Marsden.

Mr Swallow has urged the public to "observe the restrictions the government has put in place" and to adhere to the PSPO.

"It's been so busy [on the moors] that you will struggle to adhere to the social distance guidance," he added.

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