Exceptionally dry weather has led to a high risk wildfire warning from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – and the islands are among areas of highest risk.
Stornoway station manager Craig Lauder told welovestornoway.com today (Tuesday May 14th) that the week to May 17th has been identified as a time of high and extreme risk for wildfire, with the potential for the dry conditions and brisk winds to lead to rapid spreading of any fire over a potentially large area."
A warning issued yesterday (Monday May 13th) by fire Scotland identifies eastern parts of North Harris and much of North Uist and Benbecula as at extreme risk, while almost all of Lewis and Harris are at moderate risk of a wildfire outbreak.
Yesterday’s warning from Fire Scotland said: “A wildfire warning is in place across Scotland until Friday, May 17. Livestock, farmland, wildlife and woodland can all be devastated by these fires – as can the lives of people living and working in rural communities.”
In April, fires set on hills and moorland in Harris burnt down towards houses in Leverburgh and Direcleit, causing some homes to be evacuated.
This week, fire services are more concerned about leisure activities encouraged by the good weather – including barbecues, garden bonfires and the disposal of rubbish.
Station manager Lauder said: “We want people to enjoy the good weather, but to act sensibly when it comes to the potential for creating a serious problem with the spread of fire. We particularly want to draw attention to this warning for people contemplating rubbish burning and barbecues.
“All our crews are on-call volunteer firefighters and being called to any incident takes them away from their own jobs and leisure time.
"Please take extra care in the current conditions, so that we can all enjoy the good weather.”
Advice on sensible management of fire during the warning period can be found on the Fire Scotland website at http://ow.ly/Iq9930kGQU7
Anyone who sees a fire, however small, is urged to call 999 immediately.