Highlands & Islands

Crews continue to battle wild fires across Scotland

Helicopter water bombing at Sheil Bridge. Pic: Ian Gordon
Image caption A helicopter water bombing fires at Sheil Bridge

Hundreds of firefighters are continuing to battle wild fires which have broken out across the north of Scotland.

Earlier, a fire closed the A82 between Bridge of Orchy and Tyndrum in Argyll for about two hours leading to tailbacks in both directions.

Elsewhere, a boat was used to get firefighters to a remote location affected by another wild fire.

Crews are also tackling fires at Kinlochleven in Lochaber, Inverkirkaig in Assynt and Shiel Bridge in Kintail.

A wild fire in Torridon in Wester Ross has been brought under control but fire crews are still in attendance.

Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue said the boat was used as a property was potentially at risk from the blaze near Lochailort. Firefighters are keeping a watching brief over it.

The fire service was protecting properties in Kinlochleven when another wild fire broke out there, but the fire service said the properties were no longer under threat.

An area of 130 acres is affected in this latest incident which is being attended by three appliances.

A fire also broke out at Davah woods near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire on Monday evening and crews have been tackling a blaze on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire.

Ian Smith, group manager with HIFRS, said the terrain of the north west Highlands made it difficult for firefighters to reach the flames.

He said: "In Glenshiel a fire is burning high up and is inaccessible to firefighters.

"We have a pump there to maintain a watching brief.

"At Lochailort we have had to mobilise a crew via a boat to a remote location where there is house which a fire has been moving towards."

Mr Smith said three appliances were tackling an incident at Inverkirkaig and a helicopter had been brought in to water bomb the flames.

He added: "Firefighters have been putting in a tremendous effort."

Exhausting work

The fire at Inverkirkaig has been burning for almost 30 hours.

Units from Lochinver, Scourie and Achiltibuie have been fighting the flames on four fronts, one being the Inverpolly nature reserve.

Several homes in Inverkirkaig and Shiel Bridge in Glenshiel were evacuated because of advancing flames earlier, but Mr Smith said people had since been able to return to their properties.

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Media captionThe BBC's Jenny Hill says it has been one of longest periods crews have spent tackling moorland fires in recent years

Crews have been working on steep rugged terrain and helicopters have been brought in to reach inaccessible areas.

Hundreds of firefighters have been involved - most of them part-time, retained firefighters.

Much of the effort to tackle the fires has involved the exhausting work of physically beating out the flames, along with water bombing by helicopter.

The largest scale fire was at Torridon in Wester Ross which destroyed about 10 square miles of vegetation.

It has been burning over the long weekend and has led to the evacuation of a campsite and the airlifting of several hillwalkers to safety.

The National Trust for Scotland said the fires had raged over key areas of Scottish woodland, including the Inveralling forestry scheme, and that late on Sunday they hit the forest regeneration plantations above Kintail village.

Walkers and visitors to the countryside were being warned not to light fires or barbeques.

'Simple precautions'

Pete Selman, director of properties and visitor services for the trust said: "We will have a better idea by the end of the week as to how much damage has been done and what we will need to do to make the affected areas safe and accessible again and to begin the work of recovery.

"We would ask that anyone who intends walking in any of countryside properties in this and future dry spells to take a few simple precautions for the sake of their own safety and of others.

"Before venturing into the area check ahead via the media and the web if there are any wildfires."

He added: "Please don't light a fire or make use of disposable barbecues in moorland or woodland and avoid dropping glass objects, such as bottles or jars, whilst out on the property as these can focus the sun's rays and start fires.

"All that we ask is that visitors take reasonable precautions and act sensibly."

Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service had also been dealing with a large area of scrub and gorse on fire at Glengyle, at the northern end of Loch Katrine.

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