Firefighters extinguish wildfires on Skye

Firefighters extinguish wildfires on Skye

05 April 2013

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United Kingdom — Fire crews on Skye have extinguished a wildfire which had stretched over 10 hectares, threatening local properties.

More than 30 firefighters attended the scene at Skeabost Bridge, north of Portree. No injuries were reported.

At one point, the fire was said to have had three fronts – each a mile long.

Firefighters have also been dealing with a wildfire in Bettyhill in Sutherland. There have been more than 200 fires in the Highlands in the past 10 days.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service earlier said the last of the wildfires in the Highlands and Islands had been extinguished.

A major fire, at Achmore near Plockton, was put out on Thursday evening.

Fire crews were called to the blaze on Skye at 17:10 BST on Friday and found it rapidly spreading over an area of grass and heathland due to the dry conditions.

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters had been assisted by the local community to prevent the fires spreading to three nearby properties.

The number of wildfires being tackled over the last 10 days was said to have placed severe strain on the fire service.

Much of the Highland region relies heavily on part-time retained crews.

Robert Scott, assistant chief officer for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s north area, earlier praised firefighters who have been tackling the blazes.

“The last week has seen an exceptional period of activity with almost 240 wildfire incidents in the Highlands and Islands area,” he said.

“I would like to thank the retained, community response and wholetime staff for their dedication and commitment, as they have worked around the clock.”
Eagle eggs

He warned that the land and weather conditions still posed a high risk of fire and urged visitors and local communities that when venturing into the countryside to be aware of outdoor fire safety.

“Members of the public should take care not to use camp fires, barbeques, (and not) carelessly discard cigarettes, glass bottles etc which can result in significant wildfires,” he said.

The fires led to a warning from wildlife experts that dozens of golden eagle eggs and other rare bird nests may have been destroyed

RSPB Scotland said it was seriously concerned about the impact on the golden eagle, which nests in open moorland.

There were also concerns for thousands of migrant birds that are due to nest in the area in the next few weeks.

The RSPB has sent experts to the Highlands to try to assess the extent of the damage.

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