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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
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

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum