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Winter Hill fire probe turns to Wigan

A still image of the man police want to speak with in connection with the Winter Hill fire
A still image of the man police want to speak with in connection with the Winter Hill fire

An appeal to find the culprits behind the huge fire which engulfed Winter Hill appears to have switched back to the Wigan area.

Detectives probing the blaze, which burned for 41 days, have issued a plea to track down the passenger in a black Peugeot car, spotted in the area on Thursday, June 28.

Police have confirmed that their appeal is linked to the arrest of a 20-year-old Wigan man, on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

The driver of the Peugeot is the Wiganer, who has since been released under investigation.

But now efforts are focusing on the identity of his passenger, who has not yet been spoken to.

Det Con Stuart Lunt, of Chorley CID, said: “This is a complex investigation and we are still working hard to find out how this fire started.

“If you recognise the man in the passenger seat or have any information which could help with our inquiries, please get in touch.”

Another man, aged 22, from the Bolton area, who was also detained on suspicion of arson, has likewise been released under investigation.

The fire severely damaged seven square miles of moorland and it was not until August 8 that Justin Johnson, deputy chief officer at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, confirmed that the blaze was officially out.

Fire crews from across Lancashire and Greater Manchester, including firefighters from Wigan and Leigh, were diverted to deal with the aftermath of the incident.

Relief watches were drafted in for Wigan, Leigh, Hindley and Atherton fire stations while efforts were made to ‘damp down’ the smouldering moors.

A major incident was originally declared after two large fires merged together, due to increased wind speeds.

Anyone with information about the Peugeot passenger is being asked to call the police non-emergency number 101, quoting log ref 1176 of June 28.