Crews continue to battle massive moorland blaze near wind farm

help from above: A helicopter was drafted in to waterbomb sections of moorland in Moray where the blaze was particularly severe
help from above: A helicopter was drafted in to waterbomb sections of moorland in Moray where the blaze was particularly severe

Firefighters remained at the scene of a large wildfire last night more than 24 hours after the alarm was raised.

The blaze near Paul’s Hill wind farm at Knockando broke out at about 3pm on Monday and spread 10 miles over moorland and forestry to Dallas.

More than 50 firefighters have been battling to keep it under control and a helicopter was drafted in to waterbomb one of the four problem spots yesterday.

Incident commander Bruce Farquharson yesterday praised is team’s efforts in tough conditions as he confirmed they would again be working through the night.

He said: “We are currently looking at a significantly large fire that has travelled, driven by the wind, about five to six kilometres just today.

“Firefighters are working extremely hard to suppress it in very tough conditions and with the help of the surrounding estates and landowners.

“An air asset is waterbombing, with the fire mainly taking hold of moorland and forest land.”

He said the area had been split into four areas, with firefighters – and the helicopter – tackling each to ensure the fire is properly extinguished to avoid further destruction.

They have been helped by the ambulance service and gamekeepers who supplied specialist equipment including water pumps and beaters.

The fire has raced through heather and gorse bushes throughout the moorland, helped on by the warm, dry weather and a steady wind.

Continued dry weather caused chaos in Moray last summer, with dangerous conditions being created that led to a series of severe wildfires blighting communities such as Hopeman and Lossiemouth.

A wildfire warning was issued earlier this month, asking the public to be vigilant and do nothing that would have a detrimental effect on the surrounding area.
Speyside Glenlivet councillor Louise Laing last night praised the teams.

She said: “I have so much admiration for our fire service crews battling the blaze, especially as many are retained fire personnel and have full-time jobs to get to as well.

“The number of gorse fires that have occurred already this year is worrying and it’s only April. If we have another long, dry summer like last year, fires like this could be a common occurrence.

“We are seeing more and more extreme weather events linked to climate change, which can contribute to wildfires.

“I hope that when people see incidents like this on our doorstep in Moray, that their awareness of climate change will be greater and they will take steps to reduce their impact on the environment.”