Wildfire warning as new figures reveal number of blazes doubled last summer

Holidaymakers are being urged to help maintain Scotland's natural beauty as fresh statistics show that avoidable outdoor fires more than doubled last summer.

By Stephen Wilkie
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 11:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 11:10 am

During summer 2021, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews responded to more than 1,400 fires involving grass, woodland and crops.

Between June 21 and August 23 they were called to 1,446 incidents compared to 713 in the same period for 2020, an increase of more than 102%.

Fires in the open are often set deliberately or are caused by negligence and complacency. They can cause huge damage to vast areas of landscape and wildlife and have the potential to burn for days.Speaking to mark the launch of the #SaferSummer campaign, Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Alasdair Perry, who is SFRS’ Head of Prevention and Protection, said: "We need people to be aware of how quickly things can get out of hand.

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Wildfires threaten habitat, wildlife, forestry, property and crops

"Outdoor fires can spread very quickly and can cause huge damage – both to areas of countryside and indeed can spread quickly within tents and caravans.

"We understand that people will, of course, want to take to the countryside and holiday in Scotland this year. But please be careful and bear in mind that human behaviour can drive the risk of fire down significantly.

"First and foremost, before lighting any outdoor fires, check for any restrictions or permissions required by the landowner and make sure you use a fire safe pit or container that can be properly extinguished before you leave."

New statistics show that deliberate fire-setting is also on the rise, with crews responding to more than 3,000 deliberate blazes across Scotland last summer, which equates to 49 per day.

Wildfires can take days to extinguish with fire crews using beaters, leaving them unable to attend other emergencies

DACO Perry added: "Deliberate fire-setting is as needless as it is unacceptable."We are proud of our educational and prevention work, but it is true that parents, carers, and members of the public can all help us here by engaging with young people and laying bear the costs and consequences of starting a fire."When a young person deliberately starts a fire, they are risking their safety, their future, and the welfare of others. Firefighters are also being dragged away from genuine emergencies.”