Following the long spell of very dry weather, firemen have been fighting several large wildfires in Northwest Scotland and the Outer Hebrides.
Flames stretching for two miles in length were at one point threatening the village of Strontian on the Ardnamurchan peninsula with over 30 firefighters working to stop the fire spreading. Fire crews have also been battling wildfires in other areas, including Lewis, Skye, Mallaig, Glenelg and Tolsta on Lewis.
Despite the freezing conditions and snow and rain affecting much of the UK, many parts of the Highlands and Islands have had dry and sunny conditions for the last week. A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue said much of the region was “tinder dry” and asked the public to be very careful in the countryside especially if they were handling naked flames”.
Fires also broke out at Glenelg in Lochalsh (pictured) where firefighters tackled a one mile long wall of flame on Wednesday evening. Smaller fires have been put out at Mallaig, and on Skye and the Outer Hebrides. There is currently a large wildfire in the Tolsta area where fire-fighters have been battling for over 4 hours to bring the fire under control. This fire continues to burn and is being monitored at this stage.
The fires coincide with the time when crofters and estates traditionally set fire to the heather, known as “muirburn”. Northern Constabulary Police and the Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service called on land managers and estate owners to ensure that any muirburn activity is carried out in a responsible and safe manner. The Muirburn Code requires those engaged in muirburn to assess the weather conditions before beginning a burn and ensure that sufficient people and equipment must be available to control the fire. The police and fire service also called on householders not to light bonfires when there is a high wind or a strong sun prevalent and for the public to take great care not to start fires accidentally in the countryside.