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ROBERT HARDMAN describes the terrifying scenes as 20ft flames rise over Saddleworth and ash rains on nearby homes 

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From a distance it resembles Mount Etna in a bad mood. Down on the ground, though, it’s like being in a sea fog, except that everything smells like a cross between a bonfire and the peatiest malt whisky.

Periodically, locals wander through the gloom looking like something out of a sci-fi movie.

Every now and then, the fog clears to reveal distant posses of plucky firemen, somewhere up on high, whacking the ground with giant fly swats – called ‘beaters’ – or heaving coils of thick hose to another hot spot. The locals are used to the occasional summer heath fire here on Saddleworth Moor at the upper end of the Peak District. Yet no one can remember the last time they had one quite like this, with flames reaching up 20ft and ash falling like rain on nearby homes.

Actually, as of last night, there was not one fire but seven fires with varying degrees of ferocity on these hills that connect Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

With temperatures touching 90 degrees and no rain for over a week, the fires have made Saddleworth Moor unquestionably the hottest place in Britain this week.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour MP for Stalybridge, called the scenes ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘looking like Mordor from Lord of the Rings’.

‘We have had moorland fires before but this is way beyond anything I have ever experienced. Just as it appears to be getting better, it picks up again somewhere else,’ Mr Reynolds told me. ‘You get a real sense of the geography of the fire at night. It’s very dramatic. But we will get a plan together........

© Mail Online