Crews tackle wildfires as weekend warning issued

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Firefighters at Moray sceneImage source, Carrbridge Fire Station
Image caption,
Firefighters at the scene of a major wildfire near Knockando in Moray last year

Fire crews are dealing with a number of wildfires across Scotland after a warning was issued for the weekend.

The largest, in Eastfields, Fauldhouse, West Lothian, covers an area of 100 sq m, and was reported at 14:45.

More than six hours later the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said seven pumps remained at the scene.

Earlier it warned there is a "very high" risk of wildfires until Monday and urged people to "exercise extreme caution" in rural environments.

Crews in the east are also dealing with a 30 sq m fire on heath land between Armadale and Bathgate.

Meanwhile, in the west a blaze was reported in Coalburn, South Lanarkshire, covering 600m by 300m.

Nine pumps attended the initial call and six remain at the scene on Friday night.

'Fuel for fire'

A number of smaller grass fires have also been reported.

SFRS area commander Bruce Farquharson said a spate of fires could put additional pressure on the emergency services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Farquharson said: "While we appreciate that many people will seek to enjoy the outdoors during this spell of good weather this weekend, we urge everyone to make sure that they don't increase the chance of wildfire.

"We have had very little rain over the past two months, and a large volume of dead, bone-dry vegetation remains left over from last year - which essentially acts as a fuel for fire.

"As a result, there are currently vast areas of countryside all over the country that is tinder dry and vulnerable, and has all of the ingredients for fire to take hold and spread."

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The senior officers urged people to think twice before using anything involving a naked flame, such as disposable barbecues or campfires.

In recent weeks major wildfires in the New Galloway forest in Dumfries and Galloway, at Wester Ross in the Highlands, , have and on the Kilpatrick Hills near Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, required significant resources.

Last spring SFRS crews tackled more than 2,000 fires involving grasslands, woodlands and crops - three times as many as the same period in 2018.

Mr Farquharson added: "We would always stress the importance of being vigilant in areas of countryside, but right now we are in a unique and testing period for all emergency services.

"Large wildfires require huge resources to bring under control, and this has the potential to then impact on our entire structure across Scotland.

"Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting, so it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly in rural environments."

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