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article imageFires rage across Scottish highlands

By Amanda Payne     Apr 2, 2013 in Environment
Fort William - Firefighters have spent the Easter weekend battling a number of fires in the Scottish highlands. It is believed some of the fires may have been started deliberately.
A fire that started near Fort William around 4pm yesterday, April 1, spread across a three mile front and needed seven fire appliances and around forty fire fighters to tackle it. Whilst the blaze is now under control, fire appliances are on the scene to monitor the situation, according to the Daily Record.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service say that:
"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."
Fires have been reported on the Isles of Lewis and Skye as well as the mainland. Despite the harsh winter conditions, there are areas of the Highlands and Islands that have not had much snow and very little rain and the dry conditions make the likelihood of fire a bigger risk.
The Herald reports that the cause of this latest fire was unknown but that "it coincides with the end of the season when moorkeepers are allowed to burn heather to keep it healthy and prevent it growing out of control. However, it could also have been started by someone stubbing out a cigarette."
So far around a million square metres of heathland, forest and grassland have been burnt in more than 100 separate wildfires over the Easter weekend.
The Scotsman reports that landowners may be prosecuted if it is found that the burning of heather, known as muirburn, on their land has led to the fires blazing out of control. Muirburning is used as a method of clearing away hill grass and heather to improve grazing for sheep and conditions for grouse and to reduce the number of ticks which may cause disease in animals and humans.
A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue said: “Highlands and Islands Fire Control and all attending fire crews have worked extremely hard alongside landowners with aerial support from Helicopters, in some cases for days, to contain and extinguish fires which on several occasions were in close proximity to property.I would like to thank all who have exerted great efforts to bring these fires to a safe conclusion over this extremely challenging period.”
Luckily no-one has been hurt but the Fire Service is calling on walkers and other people enjoying the beautiful scenery in the Highlands during the Easter school holidays to be particularly careful with cigarettes etc so as not to start any more fires.
More about Scotland, scottish highlands, Wildfires, Firefighter, Easter
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