Highlands & Islands

Spate of Highland wildfires tackled

Wildfire near Fiskavaig, Isle of Skye
Image caption The fires have spread across large areas

Firefighters have been tackling a series of large wildfires across the Highlands.

The most serious blaze was at Strontian on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, where flames two miles across were encroaching on the village.

Crews have also been battling wildfires in many other areas, including Lewis, Skye, Mallaig and Glenelg.

A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue told the BBC much of the region was "tinder dry".

Image caption Some 30 firefighters were attempting to stop a wildfire spreading to the village of Strontian

Some areas of the Highlands and Islands have largely escaped the snowfalls that have caused chaos in several more southern and eastern areas of Scotland since last Friday.

The brigade said the fire at Strontian started in woodland at about 13:40.

Six appliances and some 30 firefighters were at the scene at the height of the blaze. They were largely stood down as darkness fell, with the situation due to be reassessed at 07:00 on Thursday.

There were said to be a "slight concern" of the risk to property, but the brigade said it was confident it would be in a position to defend any threatened homes.

The manager of the care home in Strontian had her staff on standby for possible evacuation, but the fire service said it did not expect that would be necessary at this stage.

Naked flames

Elsewhere, the brigade was continuing to deal with a one-mile flame front at Glenelg in the Lochalsh area on Wednesday evening, while a smaller fires was still burning near Castlebay on Barra.

Smaller fires had been extinguished at Mallaig and Ullapool, as well as on the Isles of Lewis and Skye.

Image caption The fires also broke out at Glenelg

A large number of similar incidents have been reported in recent days, with fire crews from elsewhere in the Highland and Strathclyde brigade areas being drafted in to cover for colleagues who were dealing with wildfires.

Graham Robertson, a group manager at Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue, told BBC Scotland: "The west coast is tinder dry, it has been all week and the wind is whipping up the fires.

"We are asking members of the public in the countryside to be very careful, especially with naked flames."

Legal muir burning is also being carried out at the moment by hill farmers and landowners. Fires are deliberately set to burn off long grasses and heather to encourage new grazing for sheep and grouse.

Muir burning can take place between 1 October and 15 April and can be extended if permission is granted.

Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service has urged landowners to follow the muir burning code and keep fires under control.

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