Wildfire on Scalpay has firemen taking a lifeboat

The wildfire on Scalpay was caused by controlled burning that got out of hand. Picture: Donald MacLeod
The wildfire on Scalpay was caused by controlled burning that got out of hand. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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FIREFIGHTERS tackled a wildfire on a remote Scottish island after getting a lift from a lifeboat crew.

Fire control received a call at around 1.30pm on Tuesday reporting a blaze in the Irishman’s Point area of Scalpay.

Crews from Broadford, Kyle of Lochalsh and Lochcarron were called out, but they required a journey over water.

The Kyle of Lochalsh lifeboat and a local boat was launched at 3.45 on Tuesday to ferry the crews to the scene of the blaze.

Sixteen firefighters and station manager Alistair Jupp loaded most of their equipment onto the boat operated by islanders, while the firefighters went onto the RNLI craft.

The firefighters used fire beaters and knapsack sprayers to fight the blaze and they managed to bring it under control by around 5.45pm. They were then returned to the mainland by the lifeboat.

Station Manager Jupp said: “This incident required a fair bit of forward planning as we knew things such as bottles of water would be in short supply on the island.

“We also had to make sure we maintained communication between Scaplay and Skye and that we travelled as light as possible, taking a small portable pump and beaters.

“Scottish Water were very helpful and provided us with water so that we could ensure our crews were hydrated throughout the day. It was particularly warm yesterday.

“When we got there the fire was well-developed and was smouldering in the gorse areas. The crews did a fantastic job to contain the fire in one area and after some hard work brought it under control.”

He added: “Around three to four acres were destroyed by the fire, including new plantation and established trees, but the work of our crews undoubtedly prevented far greater damage.”

The fire is believed to have been caused by controlled burning which got out of control.

SFRS Wildfire Project Manager, Group Manager Garry Burnett, said: “The demand on Scottish Fire and Rescue Service resources during wildfire season is significant and it is hoped that raised awareness will help reduce that demand.

“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.

“The fire service has historically worked with land managers to provide advice around their fire plans in an attempt to reduce the number of wildfires and that work will continue.”