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Region on blaze risk alert after major wildfire

Section:  Annan and Eskdale, Dumfries and West, Lockerbie and Lochmaben, Moffat  | Tags: , , ,

DANGERS of the tinder-dry countryside have been highlighted after a weekend wildfire in south west Scotland.

HUGE FIRE AT KIRKBEAN - The blaze could be seen for more than 30 miles away.
Water-dropping helicopters could be brought in to try and bring a huge hill fire under control in South West Scotland.

Hundreds of acres of grass and heather has been burning out of control since yesterday on hills overlooking the Solway Firth 10 miles south of Dumfries.

The blaze could be seen for miles around and across the Solway in Cumbria.

Grass, heather and bushes have been burning since controlled burning is thought to have got out of control.

More than 30 firefighters and workers were called to Drumburn Hill between New Abbey and Kirkbean.

The fire has been blazing out of control throughout the night and the firefighters were taken off the hill because of the danger in the darkness.

They were in attendance lower down the hill ready to go back to try and bring it under control.

The blaze is one of the most serious for many years and is burning on a front extending for several miles.

A Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service and the Forestry Commission are assessing the situation because of the danger of the fire spreading into nearby forests and on to the huge Criffel area which rises to 1700ft and is covered by thousands of trees.

Fire fighters from units at Dumfries, Dalbeattie, Annan and Thornhill attended the fire but they were unable to put out the blazing hillside where the heather and grass is tinder dry after days of sunshine.

Firefighters fear the blaze could spread into adjoining forests and one said: “It’s a huge fire and every this is so dry. It is spreading so fast that it would be dangerous during darkness.”

Fire crews from Dumfries and Galloway joined colleagues from other areas in fighting extensive blaze fronts in South Ayrshire.

At the height of the incident in countryside in the Barrhill area 50 firefighters and a dozen appliances were involved in bringing the outbreak under control.

The alarm was raised around 1 pm at Boreland Farm on Saturday and 30 crews, working in shifts, operated through the night until the fire was extinguished on Sunday.

They managed to prevent the flames spreading further to near-by woodlands.

Traffic was stopped from using  the A714 through the area for a period due to smoke blowing over the road.

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service stated that the extent of the fire meant that the outbreak was declared a level three ‘substantial’ incident.

Area Manager James Scott said: “The Fire Service worked in partnership with Police Scotland ensuring crew safety through the deployment of their police helicopter for aerial reconnaissance.”

The Dumfries and Galloway crews taking part in the response were from Annan, Dumfries, Thornhill, Gatehouse and Stranraer.

Warnings have been issued by the fire service for the public to take extra care in the countryside because of the increased blaze risk from the extremely dry scrub, moors and woodlands.

The alert follows an unusually long period of dry weather in the region.



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