A MASSIVE wildfire in the Highlands has destroyed four square kilometres of grassland, heather and forestry.
Around 40 firefighters and 40 estate workers battled to bring the flames under control in the Glenferness area of Nairn. The affected area spread approximately four square kilometres, or 1.5 square miles.
Fire crews were called to the scene at about 4.45pm on Wednesday.
Five fire engines were sent from Granton, Nairn and Carrbridge in the Highlands along with an all-terrain vehicle from Elgin and a sixth fire engine from Forres in Moray.
Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Robert Scott, the director of service delivery in the north of Scotland and chair of the Scottish Wildfire Forum, said: “This was a significant wildfire that took hold over a wide area.
“Teams of firefighters used hand-held beaters, specialist all-terrain vehicles and multiple lines of hose to tackle the fire from several locations across one-and-a-half square miles.
“Our crews worked very closely with staff from seven estates in the area, who also arranged for a helicopter to deploy large volumes of water from the air.
“This incident involved wholetime, retained and community volunteer unit firefighters operating side-by-side with estate workers and demonstrated the strong partnerships that are key to protecting communities throughout the north.”
Firefighters were called to deal with hundreds of wildfire and grassfire incidents across Scotland last year, placing a significant demand on SFRS resources. This is something the Scottish Wildfire Forum will be working on to reduce during 2014 and beyond.
ACO Scott added: “There are a number of things land managers can do to help prevent wildfires, including strict adherence to the Muirburn Code, which applies to the controlled burning of heather within the permitted season.
“Members of the public also have a key role to play. Fires can often start through discarded smoking materials or barbeques.
“As the weather starts to improve and we enjoy longer periods of dry weather we would ask that everyone does their part to protect their surroundings from fire.”
“I would like to thank the SFRS fire crews and estate workers for all their efforts in bringing this fire under control and preventing further damage.”
Efforts to extinguish the fire continued throughout the night and into the morning. A single appliance from Carrbridge remained this morning.