Plea to public to heed wildfire warnings and exercise extreme caution

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has joined with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in urging anyone who is planning to visit the countryside to exercise extreme caution and help save lives.
Tinder dry conditions have led to the outbreak of wildfires across Scotland.Tinder dry conditions have led to the outbreak of wildfires across Scotland.
Tinder dry conditions have led to the outbreak of wildfires across Scotland.

The call comes as fire crews, foresters and a host of land management partners tackle wildfires across Scotland that are placing people at significant risk, either those at the scenes of fires or members of the public who rely on a swift response in emergency situations.

Simon Hodgson, FLS chief executive, said: “This last few weeks has been unusual for the lack of rainfall in some parts of the country as well as the extended period of hot, sunny weather.

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"The risk of wildfire in these conditions is significantly higher than normal and we need everyone to play their part in minimising the risk.

“Do not light campfires, do not smoke and think twice before using a camping stove. And if you really have to use a stove, make sure it is as stable as possible, is well away from any flammable material and is on a level and preferably fire resistant surface.

“We have all seen in the last two weeks how devastating wildfires are and how quickly they can spread. We all need to be vigilant and be aware that all it takes is one glowing ember land in the wrong place.”

Two major fires – Cannich, near Drumnadrochit and at Campsie Fells, north of Glasgow – have been tackled by fire crews over the past 15 days with as many as seven fire appliances and around 50 firefighters in attendance.

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There has also been a smaller fire in Tentsmuir Forest to which fire crews from three areas responded.

SFRS Group Commander, Niall MacLennan, said: “We are urging the public not to discard cigarettes carelessly or light disposable barbecues or campfires in areas where there is vegetation, much of which is tinder dry.

"As the warm and dry weather continues, so too does the risk of wildfire. The ongoing incident at Cannich, near Inverness and our recent wildfire in Campsie Fells, north of Glasgow shows just how large these fires can become."

Fire crews across the country are first line responders for many emergency situations, some of which involve risk to life. But with the best will in the world they cannot be everywhere at once.

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Mr Hodgson added: “The fire service is made up of committed, dedicated people who make every effort to be where they are needed, when they are needed. It’s a high bar that they strive every day to meet.

“They will always be better able to rise to that challenge and do their job to the best of their ability when they do not have to divert their resources to avoidable fires.

“Everyone needs to bear that in mind and to not take any risks with fire.”

As well as damaging moor land and forest, wildfires also have a devastating impact on wildlife and can put property at risk.