Warning after mile-square Glespin wildfire

Fire engines on their way to the wildfire (Photo by Sarah Peters)
Fire engines on their way to the wildfire (Photo by Sarah Peters)

Photographer Sarah Peters saw no fewer than FIVE fire engines heading to a grass fire early yesterday evening, at the end of a warm sunny day.

She saw them on the back road from Crawfordjohn to Douglas, and although she did not have her professional equipment, she snapped photos on her phone for the Gazette.

And today (Thursday) the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service revealed that that wildfire had covered a square mile of moorland near Glespin, and they repeated warnings to the public to be aware of the risks of fires.

SFRS said that firefighters had to use handheld beaters to bring the large wildfire under control.

Crews worked on three fronts to tackle the blaze, with around 20 firefighters involved in the operation, assisted by land management personnel with an all-terrain vehicle, which was used to move water up the hillside.

Firefighters also provided oxygen therapy to a man who had suffered slight smoke inhalation prior to the arrival of SFRS crews. He received a check-up from ambulance personnel at the scene but did not need to attend hospital.

A firefighter received a check-up at Wishaw General Hospital after he sustained an ankle injury while leaving the incident.

Group Manager Colin Martin, the senior officer at the incident, said: “This was a well-developed fire involving a large area of land and it required considerable manpower to bring it to safe conclusion.

“The firefighting operation involved our crews working in hot conditions for around three-and-a-half hours to physically extinguish the fire using handheld beaters.

“Thankfully this incident didn’t threaten homes or businesses but it shows how outdoor fires impact our communities by tying up vital resources that could be needed at emergencies elsewhere.

“One of our team sustained slight ligament damage after turning his ankle while walking off the hillside, so it also shows that any such incident does pose a risk to the emergency responders involved.”

Many wildfires are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless or irresponsible behaviour.

With many parts of the country experiencing warm and dry weather, people have been urged to consider the conditions and take extra care to avoid inadvertently causing fires.

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 public can help prevent wildfires by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas.

Anyone who sees someone acting suspiciously, recklessly or irresponsibly in the countryside should contact Police Scotland on 101 or pass information anonymously to Scotland Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Further advice is available on the Your Safety section of the SFRS website, www.firescotland.gov.uk, where links can be found to both the Muirburn Code and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.