Fire service warns of wildfire risk over Easter weekend

19 April 2019, 11:27

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Scotland's fire service has warned of increased risk of wildfires over the Easter weekend.

Members of the public are being urged to act responsibly to help prevent wildfires by taking care with bonfires, smoking and disposing of litter.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) warned of a heightened risk of wildfire until Saturday.

The warning follows several wildfires across the country in the past week, including one at Durness in the Highlands, leading to properties being evacuated.

A forest fire at Dalmellington in East Ayrshire took three days to put out while a blaze near Aberlour, Moray, took firefighters two days to get under control due to high winds.

SFRS area manager Bruce Farquharson, Scottish Wildfire Forum chairman, said: "At the start of spring there is often a lot of dead vegetation leftover from last year - this fuel can dry out quickly with higher temperatures and lower humidity levels.

"A great many people will be enjoying the outdoors in the good weather this weekend, we urge everyone to make sure that they don't increase the chance of wildfire - be aware of the risks and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

"Wildfires are a major threat to our wildlife and wild places. We encourage people visiting the outdoors to be extra careful and check the advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before starting a fire.

"The public can help prevent wildfires by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas.

"Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting, so it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly in rural environments and follow the countryside code."

Local senior officer for the Highlands Rab Middlemiss said: "We have seen in the last week just how challenging these fires can become - many rural and remote communities are hugely impacted by these incidents, which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.

"Livestock, farmland, wildlife, protected woodland and sites of special scientific interest can all be devastated by these fires - as can the lives of people living and working in rural communities."

He added: "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."