Gamekeepers from Scotland’s regional moorland groups are warning the public to heed safety advice issued by the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, after a number of wildfires broke out on moorland over the past week.
24 gamekeepers and estate workers put out a wildfire which broke out at Loch Lee in Angus on 18 May and spread rapidly before being finally extinguished the following day. A separate wild fire was extinguished by firefighters near Caithness in the Highlands, also on 19 May.
The SFRS has a wild fire warning in place for most of Scotland, due to the warm and dry weather conditions. Moorlands can be a high-risk area for wildfires due to the potential for dry heather or vegetation to provide fuel for the fire.
Gamekeepers are often the first responders as they are able to access remote parts of the hill quickly and are often called on in these circumstances to help their neighbours at short notice.
Iain Hepburn, head gamekeeper at Dunmaglass Estate, part of Loch Ness Rural Communities, and also a part-time firefighter with the SFRS, said:
“The traditional muirburn that most estates undertake can help prevent wild fires, but we are entering a particularly high-risk time of year and we have been experiencing very dry, warm weather recently in many areas. Most wildfires are preventable and we would urge members of the public to remember that a fire can spread very rapidly if they discard a cigarette in the countryside or fail to properly put out a campfire or disposal barbecue. Warm, windy weather will exacerbate this risk.
“Gamekeepers stand ready to assist the fire service if there is a wildfire in their area, but we hope that won’t happen, because fighting wildfires is very difficult and dangerous work.”