Why is Saddleworth Moor turning into Britain’s answer to the Bermuda Triangle? MM investigates…

Saddleworth Moor should be peat-land like any other, but it’s slowly turning into England’s own Bermuda Triangle.

The moor’s Wikipedia page even has a subsection dedicated to the strange events that have occurred there over the years: from the plane crash in 1949, which killed 24, to being the burial site of Moors Murders victims.

And this year, there remains the unsolved case of a man’s corpse being found in a taxi.

But it’s the fires which have truly ravaged the area and caused problems for local residents, who have had their everyday life greatly affected by the two blazes.

After the fire occurred last summer, major repairs began in October to restore the moor to its former self. But just last month, another huge fire broke out; this time described as “apocalyptic” by witnesses.

“It hit us pretty bad. The smoke that covered our course was hardly bearable,” Mark Smith, director of Stamford Golf Club, said.

“I live just across the road and for two days we had to evacuate the house and live with my parents. Particularly with having two small children, the smoke was too intense for their health.”

The ramifications of both fires have been huge. Certain plant and animal species have been killed off, while air pollution hit an ‘eight’ on the government’s scale often during the height of the 2018 fire.

Scientists believe particle pollution from that fire reached beyond Manchester, as far as Warrington, Wigan and St Helens, some 60km away.

Not only have the fires caused serious health issues, but there is also a distrust brewing in the local area, especially with authorities claiming they suspect the 2018 event was arson.

“These things are highly unlikely to start by themselves, and owing to the drought it spread dramatically and very quickly,” said Smith.

“To believe someone was responsible for what happened and how it affected our business, it’s terrible. Youths are just unaware of the consequences these crimes have on people and animals. They’ll learn one day.”

James Brisbane, marketing manager of cleaning distributor Robert Scott, in nearby Greenfield, was told by residents how the heat from last year’s fire had become unbearable to live next to.

“I was told by local residents that having a glowing hillside at night was very eerie,” he said.

“They even had to keep windows shut during the hottest night of the year because of the smoke.”

The 2018 fire, which lasted just over six weeks, was so bad the army had to be called in to help local services tackle the inferno.

But the Greater Manchester services are still out of pocket from the fires. The government have so far not re-paid the £1million in costs it took to pay for services.

But despite government neglect, the nearby businesses did their best to help where possible, with the Stamford Golf Club offering the fire service and armed forces free refreshments and a place to park their vehicles. Robert Scott also allowed their car park to be used at no cost.

“We are located nearby to the moors and fire engines used our car park near the mill a few times,” said Brisbane.

“I loved the idea of the ice cream van that went up to the moors to give out free ice cream to the firefighters, though. What a nice touch.”

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