Gigantic blaze tears across Manchester moors

Up in flames: A local politician said that the fires looked “like Mordor from The Lord of the Rings”.

How bad are the moorland fires? They have raged for weeks in the north of England, destroying a lot of wildlife. Firefighters are bravely fighting them, but they could become more frequent.

What’s happening

Firefighters are struggling to put out huge moorland fires that broke out near Manchester in late June. As the flames spread, homes were evacuated, schools were closed and animals were moved to safety. Nobody is seriously hurt, but the fires were apparently started on purpose. One young man has been arrested.

Find out more

Major wildfires are pretty rare in the UK. They tend to be caused by humans, whether deliberately or accidentally (such as through a campfire).

Whatever sparked these ones, the current climate helped them to spread. Last month was one of the hottest Junes on record, and there has been very little rain. The dry moorland was ready to burn.

Experts warn that such fires could become more common as a result of global warming. Not only that, the fires themselves accelerate climate change, creating a vicious circle. This is because moorlands contain peat, which releases polluting carbon when it is burned.

The firefighters are working hard, with the help of the Army. They hope to have the fires under control within days. Just how bad is this?

Some say…

Let’s put this in perspective. When wildfires hit Portugal last year, they raged for four months, killing over 100. The fires near Manchester have only lasted a few weeks, and the locals are safe. The wildlife has been damaged, but things will grow back within a few years. We should focus on long-term problems, like our shrinking bird populations!

Others think…

This is an environmental disaster in the making. When burned, peat releases up to 10 times more carbon than a forest fire. This contributes to global warming, which makes more fires likely, and so on. Meanwhile, animals die and locals breathe in nasty fumes. It is very easy to start a fire. If this starts happening every summer, we are in trouble.

You Decide

  1. Would you want to be a firefighter?

Activities

  1. Design a poster that warns people about the dangers of wildfires. Include tips on how to avoid starting a fire.

Some People Say...

“Men argue. Nature acts.”

Voltaire

What do you think?

Word Watch

Moorland
Large, hilly areas with low-growing plants. They are usually cold and wet.
Accelerate
Speed up.
Vicious circle
When two or more bad things help to cause each other, creating a situation that gets worse and worse.
Peat
A brown, soil-like substance that contains a lot of decomposing plants.
Portugal
A medium-sized country in south-west Europe, next to Spain.

Subjects

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