Continuing risk of rural wildfires prompts warning

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The Scottish Fire and Rescue service has warned that wildfires continue to be a risk as warm and dry conditions continue.

The risk rating for the east of Scotland was recently raised to ‘very high’, although the area is escaping the extreme temperatures being experienced in other parts of the country.

People who live, work or are visiting rural areas, in particular, are being urged to exercise the utmost caution to avoid fires breaking out.

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SFRS Group Commander, Lynne Gow said: "Spring is the peak time for wildfires in Scotland when accumulated dead grass, leaves, twigs and heather acts as fuel which can spread fires quickly over a wide area.

There is still a risk of wildfires in rural areas as relatively dry conditions continue.There is still a risk of wildfires in rural areas as relatively dry conditions continue.
There is still a risk of wildfires in rural areas as relatively dry conditions continue.

"However, although cooler than elsewhere in the UK, the dry, warm weather is expected to continue.

“Wildfire can destroy wide areas of landscape and wildlife but human behaviour can dramatically reduce the risk of wildfire.

"We need people to be aware of how quickly things can get out of hand - the smallest outdoor ignition can spread rapidly and burn for days. Therefore, we are asking people to act responsibly when enjoying the outdoors and please think twice before using anything involving a naked flame."

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In summer 2021, fires involving grassland, crops or woodland, more than doubled.

In the space of six weeks, firefighters were forced to respond to more than 1400 such fires - more than double the figure recorded for the same timescale in 2020.

The SFRS has said that ,ost fires in the open are completely avoidable and are started deliberately or through human negligence and even the smallest fire in the open can quickly get out of hand.

Warmer weather and the increased numbers of people visiting the countryside creates a greater risk of fire.

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Advice on how to avoid causing wildfires can be found on the SFRS website, including making sure smoking materials are properly extinguished, and never throw away a lit cigar or cigarette in a rural environment.

Glass bottles should also be disposed of in a bin and not out in the open as the sun’s rays can be magnified with the potential of causing a wildfire or serious grassland fire.

If a fire occurs in the countryside, no matter how small, call 999 and ask for the fire service straight away. Even small fires have the potential to turn into a wildfire

Many outdoor fires are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless or irresponsible behaviour. If you suspect someone of acting irresponsibly, contact Police Scotland on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.