Wednesday, 8 April 2020

GAMEKEEPERS HELP EXTINGUISH SUTHERLAND WILDFIRE

A gamekeeper assesses how best to tackle the fire front.


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has paid tribute to quick acting gamekeepers for helping bring a croft fire under control on Tuesday evening, close to last year’s devastating wildfire in Sutherland.




Gamekeepers from Bighouse, Skelpic, Achentoul and Shurrery estates acted swiftly, mobilising leaf blowing equipment and fire beaters shortly after spotting smoke rising from whin bushes on a croft.

The gamekeepers were co-ordinated quickly by Bighouse estate staff using radio and phone communication and were on-site with members of the local community before the fire could spread beyond slow moving stage.

Flames from whins fanned out onto rank heather in wind and, without timely intervention, could have caused more serious damage.

Their professionalism and fire management skills helped to control the blaze, with fire engines from Dornoch traveling under blue light to assist the local fire crew, gamekeepers and the residents.

Last May, a fire which burnt for 6 days in the area (also attended by gamekeepers) was estimated to have released the carbon equivalent of 6 days of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions. 

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman, Alex Hogg, said: “Well done to the fire crews, residents and the gamekeepers for their swift actions, especially as this was nothing to do with estate activities.

"Last Wednesday, when Green MSP Andy Wightman’s amendment to the Coronavirus Bill at Holyrood outlawed muirburn during the lockdown, we said that SGA members would still answer the call to help the frontline services at wildfires, utilising their skills and equipment for public good at this time.

“They put their own personal safety aside to turn out, as they have often done. We are pleased to work closely with the fire service and reiterate that our members will assist, wherever required.”

The fire service were not called to any Scottish grouse muirburn fires this season, prior to the activity being suspended during the lockdown period.