West Sands fire sets back dunes preservation

The Dunes will take months to recover.
The Dunes will take months to recover.

A grassfire which damaged iconic sand dunes on St Andrews’ West Sands has “gutted“ workers who were trying to preserve them.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called out on Saturday evening and extinguished the flames.

Ranald Strachan, countryside ranger for Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, confirmed the vegetation would eventually repair but the incident had set back work carried out by volunteers.

“As a site manager you expect a certain amount of damage – it’s a very busy beach and you just roll with the punches, he said.

“But I feel gutted because, first off, it’s not a big surprise.

“That’s quite sad in itself.

“But the second thing is I feel genuinely sad for all the volunteers.

“Many of them can only come on very set occasions for set reasons.

“Some people bring their families to show them the work that they have done.

“Obviously, the people who worked in that area might feel a little upset.”

Ranald said grassfires were not that common in the dunes, with just one other incident in the last 18 months, which occurred because of fireworks.

Vegetation roots were undamaged but Ranald believes it will take months for the area to recover, and said the fire occurred in an area where repairs had taken place.

He said: “At Christmas time we had a project, which was to recycle Christmas trees and put those trees within a crater in the sand dunes.

“It was those sand dunes which caught fire.”