FIREFIGHTERS say they have brought the large wildfire on Winter Hill under control.

The huge operation has been scaled back after 13 days of intense efforts.

The number of fire engines at the site from Lancashire and Manchester is now around 14 during peak hours supported by specialist wildfire fighting teams, helicopters and mountain rescue units.

But fire chiefs are still warning members of the public to stay off the moors as the conditions could change and crews are still facing demanding conditions.

Chris Kenny, Chief Fire Officer at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We’ve made excellent progress in reducing the Winter Hill wildfire and the vital infrastructure and properties in the area have been successfully protected.

"We’re operating in an area around 18 square km in size but have been able to contain the fire to approximately 8 square km. We have good control lines in place in the form of trenches that have been dug around the site and back burning has been done in places to stop the fire spreading and protect areas of high risk.

"A change in wind direction could alter our plans but at present we are able to reduce the response, while still monitoring for flare-ups and maintaining control lines. We continue to douse the moors with water by land and air.

"Although the fire is currently under control, the incident remains protracted and demanding, and we expect to be present for several days yet.

“Working closely with our partners and voluntary agencies, the fire has been brought under control despite very challenging conditions. The response by everyone involved has been tremendous, and we have been greatly supported by the local community.

“I’d particularly like to thank local businesses who have supported employees who also work for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service as retained firefighters, in allowing them to provide a sustained response, and those near to the scene that are experiencing disruption. I’m grateful for their patience and co-operation.

“Please continue to stay away from the area, to allow us to maintain the good progress we’ve made and return Winter Hill to normality as soon as possible.”

The plea was echoed by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tony Hunter.

He said: "Members of the public are continuing to come up to the areas and we are now urging local people and walkers to please stay off the moorland in Tameside, Saddleworth and Bolton as we deal with these incidents.

"By walking on the moorlands close to where these incidents are, you are not only putting yourselves in danger but risk disrupting the work of our firefighters who are working tirelessly to put the fires out and keep local people safe. We want people to enjoy the sunshine but please find an alternative walking route, and steer clear from all three fires.

"The support we have had from local communities has been overwhelming and we cannot thank you enough for your support, but please help us deal with these challenging incidents by staying away."