Huge grassland fire brought under control before it reaches Scottish town after burning through the night
Dozens of firefighters battled blaze near Fort William in Scottish Highlands
Hundreds of acres of heath, grass and trees have burned in dry conditions
Cause unknown but farmers are currently allowed to set moorland on fireLocal Lib Dem MP Charles Kennedy praises efforts of emergency services
Becky Evans and Mark Duell
22:38 GMT, 1 April 2013
00:53 GMT, 3 April 2013
The night sky lit by flames from fire ravaging a forest, this scene could have been captured in some far-off sunny clime. In fact it’s Scotland.
While Britain has shivered in the coldest March for more than 50 years, the Highlands has been hit by unseasonably dry weather which has left the region prone to wildfires.
Forecasters said just 1.5in of rain fell in Northern Scotland in March – a mere 23 per cent of the region’s expected rainfall.
Ablaze: Pictured last night, the wildfire has now been extinguished but crews remain to check for any hotspots
Attacking the flames: The blaze came at the end of the season when farmers are allowed to set moorland on fire to burn long grass and heather to encourage new grazing for sheep
A Met Office spokesman said: ‘We
associate wildfires with summer and hot temperatures but one of the main
drivers is how dry the conditions are.’
Large swathes of forest have been destroyed in 175 wildfires across the Highlands in the past week alone.
Ross, Skye and Lochaber Liberal
Democrat MP Charles Kennedy praised the efforts of emergency crews who
tackled the fire north of Fort William on Monday night. ‘I have never
witnessed anything quite on the scale of the massive hill fire above
Banavie and Corpach,’ he said.
Fire: The blaze began yesterday above Banavie on the outskirts of Fort William opposite Ben Nevis in Scotland
Response effort: Firefighters have struggled to control the pockets of hill fires as the conditions are so dry
Emergency services: Up to 40 firefighters were working at the scene opposite Ben Nevis in the Highlands
Extraordinary: The scale of the fire could be seen by this picture posted on Twitter showing the blaze at night
Not far away: These pictures show how close the fire has come to built up areas in the Scottish Highlands
Forecasters meanwhile say our long-awaited spring weather could arrive this weekend .
The South will see temperatures
reaching up to 10C (50F), only a few degrees below typical April
averages, with sunshine spreading across the UK. But the rise in warmer
temperatures will bring unsettled weather including downpours of rain.
MeteoGroup forecaster Matt Dobson
said: ‘There’s definitely a change on the way. Saturday looks like a
lovely day for the South. Cold but plenty of sunshine around.
‘In the North it will still be fairly cold even on Saturday with rain and sleet about.’