Massive Moray wildfire that gripped the nation finally comes to an end

The huge Moray wildfire that raged for more than four days through the countryside and moorlands was finally declared extinguished yesterday.

Described as one of the largest seen in the UK, it caused widespread devastation in the region, spreading across an estimated 27 square miles of land between Knockando, Dallas and Dunphail.

Some areas of moorland and forestry in Moray continued smoldering yesterday afternoon, with local fire crews warning that continued warm, dry weather could cause a wildfire to spark into life.

Storm conditions are this weekend expected to bring an end to the dry spell across large parts of the country, but fire crews will remain on high alert in case it re-ignites.

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the original wildfire had been extinguished, although appliances were called out once again on Thursday afternoon to a second blaze in the Knockando area.

He said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was alerted at 2.58pm on Monday to reports of a grass fire near Aberlour.

“More than 80 firefighters, two helicopters, 19 fire engines and specialist resources tackled a large wildfire for more than two days.

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“A number of nearby properties were evacuated as a precaution. There were no casualties.

“Crews have now left the scene, but SFRS will continue to monitor for heatspots and flare-ups.”

The second wildfire started near Dava, Grantown, with nine appliances spending Thursday night and part of Monday morning battling to get it under control.

It was said to have spread out over three square miles at its height. Crews left shortly after 8am yesterday, satisfied it was fully out.

With the dust now settling in Moray, pleas have been made by local politicians that action be taken to avoid a reccurence.

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston called on the Scottish Government to make every effort to find a solution to the wildfires that have gripped the north of Scotland recently.

He said: “These wildfires have been quite unprecedented, with an area of more 20 square miles burnt in Moray alone.

“Firefighters, local farmers, estate workers and others have risen to the task of tackling the blazes magnificently and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

“However, we really shouldn’t be calling on them to undertake this hazardous work without making every effort to do all we can to prevent fires of this magnitude breaking out in the future.

“It is important that the Scottish Government looks into why these fires seems to be happening more often than before, and what lessons can be learnt in terms of land management, fire prevention and, when fires to take hold, what additional support those fighting them need to do the job.”