Highland Fires Latestby Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com May/2011
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Several large wildfires have been blazing for days across parts of the west Highlands, but this morning the BBC reports that the worst is over.
Today fire crews are still tackling blazes at Inverkirkaig in Assynt and Lochailort near Mallaig, but the fire in Torridon has now been extinguished. The BBC says that six hillwalkers had to be airlifted to safety during the Torridon fire, and helicopters have also been used here and elsewhere to drop water from the air.
National Trust for Scotland (NTS) properties at Kintail and Torridon have been badly affected, and the damage to wildlife and rare native woodland is thought to be significant at both sites. However NTS Communications Manager Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr is sounding upbeat.
'Good news' she told us this morning. 'The fire is under control in Kintail and it's hoped that it will be extinguished by lunchtime today. We've now got our first estimates of the extent of the damage. It seems that an area of some five square miles is affected at Torridon and four square miles at Kintail. It's estimated that the cost of the damage is in excess of £100,000.'
At this stage it is thought the fires were started accidentally.
In their aftermath NTS staff are taking stock of the damage caused and what this will mean for woodland regeneration projects in particular.
Pete Selman, Director of Properties and Visitor Services for the Trust commented:
'We will have a better idea by the end of the week as to how much damage has been done and what we will need to do to make the affected areas safe and accessible again and to begin the work of recovery. We would ask that anyone who intends walking in any of [our] countryside properties in this and future dry spells to take a few simple precautions for the sake of their own safety and of others.'
'Before venturing into the area check ahead via the media and the web if there are any wildfires. If you can, speak to local residents before setting off, as well as Trust staff and countryside rangers. Also, please don't light a fire or make use of disposable barbecues in moorland or woodland and avoid dropping glass objects, such as bottles or jars, whilst out on the property as these can focus the sun's rays and start fires.'
'All that we ask is that visitors take reasonable precautions and act sensibly.'