FIREFIGHTERS have returned to tackle a major blaze on Darwen Moors this morning which was believed to have been started by a discarded barbecue.

Eight fire engines from Lancashire and Greater Manchester were sent to the moorland fire off Bolton Road, at 6.45pm yesterday, along with three off-road firefighting vehicles - a Polaris and two Hagglund - as well as the burn team.

At that stage 40 firefighters were tackling the fire, which was covering an area approximately 300 yards by 200 yards, but was continuing to advance.

Firefighters were using aqua packs and beaters to bring the fire under control.

They had to leave the fire because of bad light but crews from stations including Darwen, Blackburn, Hyndburn and Burnley, returned at 4am today.

A fire service spokesman said: "Eight fire engines along with wildfire teams and specialist appliances resumed firefighting at first light. The fire is affecting approximately 5km of moorland.

"Please avoid the area, particularly paths along the Witton Weaver’s Way. Road closures are in place including Turton Road. Travelling to the scene by vehicle, bike or on foot, will block access for emergency vehicles and hamper our response.

"If you’re nearby and affected by smoke, stay indoors and keep your windows and doors closed."

Nearby residents are still being warned to keep their windows closed as smoke still billows from the fire.

Commenting on the fire last night, chief fire officer Justin Johnston Tweeted: "We are still firefighting on Winter Hill and we now have eight fire engines up on the Darwen Moors. An officer just described it as like Blackpool prom up there today. Coronavirus is still here folks."

Chris Rainford, from the fire service's drone team, Tweeted: "Pretty much live pics from large moorland fire on Darwin Moor apparently started by a barbecue. Not only frustrating after multiple 'don't take a barbecue on the moors' messages, but large number of resources now tied up dealing with this."