Smoke from massive wildfire in Highlands visible from space

Two firefighters involved in tackling the blaze at Cannich, near Loch Ness, were injured earlier this week.

Laura Paterson
Wednesday 31 May 2023 13:22 BST
Smoke from the wildfire at Cannich can be seen from space (Nasa worldview/PA)
Smoke from the wildfire at Cannich can be seen from space (Nasa worldview/PA)

Smoke from a wildfire that has led to two firefighters being injured and burnt more than three square miles can be seen from space.

The fire at Cannich, in the hills above Loch Ness in the Highlands, is now in its fourth day with four fire engines and specialist resources remaining on scene.

Satellite images from Nasa show the plume of smoke from the blaze drifting towards the loch on Monday amid clear skies.

Helicopters are being used to waterbomb the area and members of the public have been warned not to walk their dogs there as a safety precaution.

The two firefighters injured in an accident in their all-terrain vehicle have now been released from hospital after being airlifted from the scene on Tuesday morning.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said an investigation is ongoing into the incident.

The service was alerted to the current fire at 12.46pm on Sunday and at its height a helicopter was used to waterbomb the area and nine appliances were sent to the scene.

It now covers an area of around 3.08 square miles.

Firefighters have attended fires in the same area on four separate occasions since May 23.

Meanwhile, the service has extended a wildlife warning across much of Scotland until Monday.

The warning has been in place since May 26, and grades the risk of wildfires as “very high” in most of east, central, and southern Scotland.

SFRS group commander Niall MacLennan said: “As the warm and dry weather continues, so too does the risk of wildfire.

“The ongoing incident at Cannich shows just how large these fires can become.

“A mixture of seasonal weather conditions combined with very dry and dead vegetation means there is a heightened risk of fires, which can be started by the careless disposal of cigarettes as well as barbecues or campfires left unattended.

“Many of our rural and remote communities are hugely impacted by these incidents, which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.

“Cannich has been a challenging incident and our crews are working tirelessly to tackle the fire and stop further spread.

“Extinguishing a fire on this scale requires a large amount of resources, including the use of helicopters to bolster our response. We will remain on scene until we make the area safe.”

Ross Ewing, Scottish Land & Estates director of moorland, said: “Our thoughts are with the firefighters who have been injured tackling the wildfire in the area around Cannich.

“Nearly 3,000 hectares of land have already been burned in this fire and it follows on from the huge wildfire near Glenuig in April, which was estimated to be the second largest ever recorded in the UK.

“Wildfires have a devastating impact on wildlife and habitats, generating catastrophic carbon emissions. They are becoming increasingly frequent in Scotland, partly due to climate change and partly due to a lack of fuel load management in some areas.

“This wildfire demonstrates how important it is to utilise all the tools at our disposal to manage the fuel load of vegetation, which has been shown to increase wildfire risk. We hope the situation at Cannich will soon be contained so that the scale and extent of damage can be assessed.

“We urging anyone going out into the countryside to take care and follow guidance in relation to campfire cooking and when the ground is so dry it’s recommended not to use either a campfire or a camping stove.”

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