Moray firefighters issue urgent warning after 42 callouts to countryside fires over four weeks
Get the Northern Scot sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
MORAY emergency services have issued an urgent warning after a spate of more than 40 fires in the local countryside over four weeks.
Firefighters attended 42 fires in the open between June 21 to July 21 at Roseisle Forest and other local areas, affecting gorse, woodland, beaches, golf courses and scrubland.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, along with Forestry and Land Scotland and Police Scotland, will hold an outdoor fire safety event at Roseisle Forest on Saturday, August 7, to urge the public to use the countryside responsibly.
Members of the public will be being reminded of the dangers of barbecues and camp fires. This follows a successful event last month attended by several hundred visitors.
Fire appliances and other specialist vehicles and equipment, including an all-terrain vehicle and water carrier, will be on show between 10am to 3pm.
Watch Commander Gareth Luce, of Elgin Fire Station, said: "Last summer the Moray area recorded one of the highest increases in Scotland for grass fires when we saw the number more than double from the previous year.
"Already this year we are experiencing a high number of fires in the open. The combination of good weather and more people holidaying at home is playing a part in this increase and we need visitors to the countryside to understand the impact of their actions.
"We are asking people to make sure campfires and barbecues are lit in a fire-safe pit or container, are always attended, and are fully extinguished before leaving.
"Smokers are reminded to extinguish cigarettes and dispose of them.
"Just one ember can start a fire which has the potential to burn for days and can be devastating for communities, wildlife and farmland and, at the same time, places a strain on emergency services.
"Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a fire starting, and we are asking visitors to this forest and the other areas of countryside across Moray to always follow onsite signage, to act safely and responsibly in the outdoors, and always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code."
More information on fire safety and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is available here.