Wildfires cause £100,000 damage in Scotland

Thousands of heathland fires raged across swathes of the UK today, as the record-breaking dry spell continued.

Strong winds and very little rainfall hampered the efforts of firefighters and emergency workers, as Prime Minister David Cameron praised their work.



The hottest April on record, which saw only 21% of the expected rainfall in England and Wales, has caused vast areas of parched, tinder-dry land to go up in flames.



It is believed most of the fires, which have caused widespread damage to scenic beauty spots and conservation areas, were started deliberately.



Much-needed rain has started to fall in Ireland, but it will not drift into Scotland and England until later this week, forecasters said, and steady winds are unlikely to die down.



In the worst-affected regions helicopters were brought in to drop water as hundreds of firefighters are tackling the fires on the ground.



Crews in Northern Ireland have fought more than 1,000 gorse and forest fires in the past four days, in what chiefs said was the busiest time in 30 years.



Around 200 personnel have battled 255 fires in 31 locations since Tuesday, according to the province's deputy chief fire officer Chris Kerr.



Mr Kerr appealed to the public not to go near gorse land or grassland areas, a message echoed by officials in all affected areas.



There were also calls for people to be vigilant and avoid discarding cigarette ends, lighting barbecues or other recreational activities which may result in fire outbreak.



In the Scottish Highlands a helicopter was used to waterbomb an area in Inverkirkaig, while strengthening winds in Lochailort caused flames to flare up.



Another wildfire broke out in Newton of Ardtoe in Salen and two fire engines from Fort William are at the scene.



The National Trust for Scotland said at least £100,000 of damage had been caused to its forest regeneration project in Torridon and Kintail.



A fire in heather and gorse at the Queen's estate in Scotland, which started on Monday, is now under control.



In Ireland 40 soldiers and three Air Corps helicopters supported fire crews in Donegal as they battled wildfires for a sixth day.



Shane McEntee, junior minister in the Department of Agriculture, said irresponsible and criminal behaviour has started fires costing the state millions.



He called for people living in rural areas, farmers and forest owners to work with forestry inspectors, fire crews and gardai to identify who started blazes.



"I am absolutely appalled at the flagrant disregard for the law, property and people's lives due to the irresponsible and criminal behaviour of a small minority who continue to set land fires around the country," Mr McEntee said.



In Lancashire, crews battled blazes in Belmont and Simonswood, and firefighters attended the Swinley Forest area of Berkshire where a number of blazes broke out.



David Cameron paid tribute to the emergency services during Commons questions.



He was asked by Conservative MP Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell) if the necessary support would be provided by the Government if needed.



The Prime Minister said: "I certainly join my honourable friend in praising the fire service and the armed services that will be taking part in this difficult endeavour.



"As he knows, there are well tried and tested procedures to make sure that central Government stands behind local government when there are excessive costs and I will very happily write to him about this issue."



Helen Rossington, a forecaster from Meteogroup, the weather arm of the Press Association, said: "The wind is going to be pretty much what we have had over the last couple of days, which has been a fairly moderate speed and it will be moving from easterly to south easterly over the next few days.



"It will be bringing in warmer air, but there will be a greater risk of rain, which is a good thing on one hand, but not on the other."



She added: "There is rain coming in from the west in the south and the high pressure that's been giving us the nice weather is drifting off to the North Sea.



"There is rain across Ireland now, so there will be rain in parts of Scotland on Thursday and only the odd shower across the rest of the UK.



"It's going to be Friday and Saturday when we get the real chance of rain in England."



Environment experts also warned of the damaging effects the fires will have on soil, vegetation and wildlife.



Dr Fred Worrall from the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University, said there is a much higher chance of wild fires during this time of year as the vegetation is not fully green and burns more easily.



He said: "The great intensity of these wild fires destroys not only the surface vegetation but can burn into the soil causing much greater longer term damage.



"Compounding this is the fact that it is fledgling season and there are many ground-nesting birds, maximising the negative impact on the environment."

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice