Scotland

Wildfire numbers in Scotland quadruple in a year

Moray fire Image copyright Carrbridge Fire Station
Image caption Fire chiefs have warned of another summer of blazes like the one near Paul's Hill wind farm in Moray

The number of wildfires recorded in Scotland last summer was about four times higher than in 2017.

Between June and August last year, 2,329 grass and woodland fires were recorded across the country.

That was a rise on the 624 recorded over the same period the previous year.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) figures show that the highest number of fires was recorded in the East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and North Ayrshire region, with 293 blazes.

In Glasgow city, 258 fires were recorded, while the figure for Falkirk and West Lothian was 251.

The lowest number recorded was in the Western, Shetland and Orkney isles, where there were 11 fires.

Already this year, there have been a series of major wildfires in areas including Caithness, Sutherland and Moray.

The fire service, working with Police Scotland, has launched a StampItOut summer safety campaign targeting people who deliberately start fires.

Image copyright Carrbridge Fire Station
Image caption Firefighters at the scene of a major wildfire near Knockando
Image copyright SFRS

There was also a rise in the number of deliberate fires involving property, dumped rubbish and grass.

SFRS assistant chief officer Ross Haggart said: "These incidents put lives, property and the environment at risk. They can also delay firefighters in getting to a real emergency such as a house fire where every minute counts.

"Firefighters will be there to respond when called upon, but please think twice before deliberately starting a fire."

Image copyright Alex McKinley/SFRS
Image caption A wildfire in North Sutherland burned across thousands of acres of moorland
Image copyright Balintore Fire Station
Image caption Crew from Balintore fire station were among firefighters called to tackle a wildfire near Mey in Caithness

On the rise in the number of wildfires, Mr Haggart added: "We have seen already this year the massive impact a large fire in the open can have.

"Huge swathes of land can be left ravaged by these fires, which can spread easily through high winds.

"The SFRS works tirelessly every year with our partners to help keep communities safe from these types of incidents.

"But communities can help us too. That's why we are appealing to people to take great care - it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly in rural environments and follow the countryside code.

"Just one heat source, like a campfire ember, can cause it to ignite. And if the wind changes direction, even the smallest fire can spread uncontrollably and devastate entire hillsides."

Image copyright @FireThurso
Image caption A firefightrer surveys wildfire damage near Forres

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