Fire crews extinguish Highlands wildfire

A MASSIVE wildfire in the Highlands was finally put out by firefighters who worked through the night to tackle the blaze.

The fire broke out at Benavie, north of Fort William, at around 4pm on Monday and stretched for three miles at its height.

A total of 50 firefighters battled the blaze at it swept across huge swathes of grassland, covering over 650 hectares.

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Although it encroached land close to houses, no properties needed to be evacuated.

The wildfire was the worst of almost 200 blazes which have stretched the fire service over the last week.

A spokesman said: “The wildfire at Banavie has been extinguished and is under control. Crews are in attendance to maintain a watching brief and check for any hot spots.

“At its height, there was a three-mile fire front with eight appliances and 50 personnel who worked throughout the night to control the fire.”

It was one of six serious fires being tackled during Tuesday.

Firefighters continue to fight significant blazes at Gairloch, Kishorn and Braintra, near Achmore, while fires are being tackled at Lochinver, Golspie and the Western Isles. Two smaller fires on Skye are also being tackled.

Fires at Morar and Glenfinnan have now been brought under control.

The spokesman said: “Crews on site and staff at Operations Control, Inverness, continue to work tirelessly to deal with each of the incidents, whilst ensuring that cover is maintained to deal with other operational incidents across the Highlands and Islands area.

“Over the last week there have been 175 wildfire incidents and the Service would like to thank their retained and wholetime staff who have worked around the clock to deal with these incidents.

“We would also like to thank local employers who have released our retained crew members to deal with the incidents and maintain the safety of our local communities and local landowners and other agencies for their support .”

He added: “Visitors and local communities while enjoying the countryside should remember dry ground means there’s an added risk of a fire starting and should take care at all times of the year while outdoors.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has urged land managers to follow safety procedures, warning they could face prosecution over uncontrolled blazes.

Muirburning is carried out by farmers and land managers to burn off long grasses and mature heather to improve grazing for sheep. They also reduce the numbers of disease-carrying ticks.