Visitors are urged to stay away from the fire-ravaged Roaches area until further notice

FIREFIGHTERS are expected to remain at the scene of the huge woodland blaze in the Staffordshire Moorlands well into next week.

The fire started on Thursday afternoon at the rear of The Roaches at Upperhulme, near Leek, and has since destroyed an estimated 80 acres of land rich with wildlife.

Dozens have firefighters from across Staffordshire, supported by colleagues from across the border in Derbyshire, have been tackling the blaze.

As many as 12 fire engines have been at the scene of the incident backed up by specialist vehicles.

Two properties had to be evacuated overnight as the fire continued to spread in the tinder dry conditions created by the recent extremely hot weather.

Because of the isolated location dams have been set up in local streams to supply the firefighters with water to extinguish the flames.

A helicopter has also been used to drop water on certain areas too dangerous for firefighters to enter.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Jim Bywater said: “The terrain and wind conditions are making the firefighters job very hard.”

He urged people to stay away from the area while the firefighting activity continues.

Mr Bywater warned: “It is too dangerous to come walking or climbing and we need emergency vehicle access clear.

” When the flames are out we shall have to put lots of water on any smoking areas as the heat is deep seated in the peat soil.”

He explained: “We’re tackling the fire from all sides and have used a helicopter to put water on the fire from above in the rocky forest area we couldn’t reach on foot.

“We’re working closely with partners from Severn Trent, the Peak District National Park and colleagues from Derbyshire Fire Service are helping at the scene.”

He added: “We’d like to thank the public for offers of support, donations and local businesses for providing firefighters with refreshments.”

The Roaches will be out of bounds to the public for at least the weekend and Roaches Road and surrounding country lanes remain closed.