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Forest fire was ferocious

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A FIREFIGHTER who helped tackle the New Galloway Forest blaze has said it was ‘ferocious’.

Ewan Hyslop, from Lockerbie, is a retained crew commander with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. And he was called to New Galloway last month as part of the 60-plus strong fire crew assembled to tackle the blaze.

Ewan, 39, said: “We’re well into the wildfire season and thanks to the dry weather the shrubbery was ripe for a breakout. The fire spread over more than 4000 acres of hill-land, grass, shrubbery and trees. “Wind is your biggest enemy and the heat and smoke creates a very dangerous environment.

“There were four crews working in my sector trying to beat the flames and contain the spread by starving the fire of oxygen using traditional fire beaters. It was hot and relentless.

“What made the difference was two helicopters dropping water directly from above sourced from a nearby loch. Their work was brilliant and so effective – to see it at first hand so close was unique.”

RAGING . . . fire spread over 4000 acres

It took several days for the incident to be scaled down from a significant incident to a manageable one controlled with local-only resource.

In his ‘day job’ with Openreach, Ewan is a patch manager responsible for engineers across the West of Scotland who keep the local broadband network healthy and stable and prevent service outages. The dad-of-two said: “What we do is essential and Covid-19 has demonstrated how much people rely on us, not just to stay connected to work, school, friends and relatives, but from a wider economic perspective. Our top priority right now is to keep people in service and make sure everyone stays connected during lockdown. “Just like in a forest fire, we’re assessing risks and taking precautions at every step to make sure people are safe.”

DAY JOB . . . Ewan in his Openreach role


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