Wildfire warning for communities across Scotland

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Warnings are in place for North and South West Scotland, but the whole country faces an increased risk on Friday.

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The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is urging the public to be aware of an increased wildfire risk this week.

Dry and warm weather has increased the threat of fire across North and South West Scotland

However, the whole of the country will face a heightened wildfire threat on Friday.

In conjunction with the Scottish Wildfire Forum, the SFRS has issued a public warning which will last until Saturday.

Wild and grass fires can start by the careless disposal of cigarettes and barbecues or campfires left unattended.

They then have the potential to burn for days and devastate vast areas of land, wildlife and threaten the welfare of nearby communities - swallowing up emergency service resources.

SFRS Area Manager Bruce Farquharson is the chair of the Scotish Wildfire Forum.

He said: "We saw last year the devastating effect wildfires can have on communities and wildlife.

"The dry and warm weather we are currently experiencing means there is a heightened risk of wildfire across the country this week.

"Many rural and remote communities are hugely impacted by wildfires, which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.

"Livestock, farmland, wildlife, protected woodland and sites of special scientific interest can all be devastated by these fires - as can the lives of people living and working in rural communities."

Area Manager Farquharson believes human behaviour can go a long way towards lowering the risk of wildfire.

He explained: "Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting so it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly in rural environments and follow the countryside code.

"Grass and wildfires are a common risk at this time of year when warmer weather dries out vegetation – especially dead winter foliage – which offers an ample fuel source.

"Just one heat source like a campfire ember can cause it to ignite and if the wind changes direction even the smallest fire can spread uncontrollably and devastate entire hillsides."

The SFRS works closely with land managers, communities and other safety partners to prevent these incidents ever occurring.

Area Manager Farquharson continued: "At the start of spring there is often a lot of dead vegetation leftover from last year - this fuel can dry out quickly with higher temperatures and lower humidity levels.

"A great many people will be enjoying the outdoors in the good weather this weekend, we urge everyone to make sure that they don’t increase the chance of wildfire – be aware of the risks and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

"Wildfires are a major threat to our wildlife and wild places. We encourage people visiting the outdoors to be extra careful, and check the advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before starting a fire.

"The public can help prevent wildfires by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas."

For further advice and information about wildfires and how to prevent them visit: www.firescotland.gov.uk or www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/

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