Wild fires on Benbecula and Harris tackled overnight amid ‘extreme’ warning

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Fire crews are still tackling two wild fires in the Western Isles after the blazes broke out yesterday, despite snow and freezing temperatures.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) was called to reports of a wildfire at Market Stance, Balivanich, on the Isle of Benbecula, at around 3.30pm on Wednesday.

Three appliances attended the scene, and the fire was said to be about 1,000 metres wide.

Fire call today. Well done guys. @LB_Firestaion @GMGHammond1 @Fire_WIsles @fire_scot pic.twitter.com/TdtS2EtsfH
— Ruaridh Steele (@rjs_07) February 10, 2021

The SFRS has scaled it back to around 80 metres, and remains on scene.

On the Isle of Harris, the fire service was alerted to a wildfire just after 6.30am on Thursday at Horsacleit.

The SFRS sent two appliances to the 1,600-metre-wide blaze, and remains in attendance.

Benbecula – MARY GALBRAITH

(WESTERN ISLES WEATHER)

There have been no reported casualties at either site.

It comes after SFRS area commander Bruce Farquharson warned on Wednesday that despite the freezing temperatures, parts of the west coast are vulnerable to wildfires.

He said: “There may have been a lot of snow in the eastern and central areas of Scotland, but that is not the case in the western coastal areas and fuel conditions are very different.

“At this time of year, we typically have a large volume of dead, bone-dry vegetation left over – which essentially acts as a fuel for fire.

“As a result, there are currently vast areas of countryside all over the country that are tinder dry and vulnerable, this provides all of the ingredients for fire to take hold and spread.

Tarbet Harris this morning taken by Alasdair Duce pic.twitter.com/hAYoWVIGVt
— Western Isles Weather (@IslesWeather) February 11, 2021

“We are asking the public to exercise extreme caution and think twice before using anything involving a naked flame.

“This weather pattern is very similar to what we witnessed two years ago during the ‘Beast from the East’, which saw a number of challenging wildfire incidents on Barra and Skye.”

Meanwhile, information from the NASA Global Fire map gives an indication of the current extent of the fires across the Western Isles.

NASA Fire Information Resources Management System

On the Isle of Harris, the fire service was alerted to a wildfire just after 6.30am

NASA FIRMS

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) was called to reports of a wildfire at Market Stance, Balivanich, on the Isle of Benbecula

NASA FIRMS

The map also shows fires on Skye, north of Talisker.

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