A wildfire tore through the Highlands yesterday as Scotland recorded the UK’s hottest day of the year so far.
Two firefighters were injured as they responded to the blaze, which is visible on satellite images.
It came as temperatures in Scotland hit a high of 24.4C (76F) in Tyndrum, Perthshire, yesterday, making the country hotter than Athens in Greece which reached 23C (73F).
The blaze started on Tuesday last week and had been brought under control but it flared up again on Sunday.
Experts say the fire could become one of the largest ever seen in Scotland.
Experts said the wildfire could become one of the largest ever seen in Scotland as strong winds have helped it spread
The wildfire near at Kerrow Farm in Cannich near Inverness was visible on satellite images (pictured)
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it was called to the blaze at Kerrow Farm in Cannich, Inverness-shire, just before 1pm on Sunday.
On Monday, a helicopter was deployed to try to water bomb the area but the flames spread.
The two firefighters were hurt when the all-terrain vehicle they were travelling in at the wildfire site overturned.
Both were airlifted to hospital at around 9.30am yesterday. Their condition was described as stable and they were expected to be discharged last night.
A spokesman for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance said: ‘SCAA deployed its Aberdeen-based air ambulance with a paramedic and a critical care team on board.
‘One person was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital [in Inverness] and the specialist team went with the second as they were taken by coastguard helicopter to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.’
Locals were urged to keep windows and doors shut due to the prevalence of heavy smoke in the area.
A fire service spokesman said: ‘We currently have five appliances on the scene, where firefighters are continuing to extinguish the fire and prevent further fire spread. We anticipate this incident will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.
‘The fire has spread and additional helicopters have been requested for water bombing.’
Satellite images showed the blaze had burned almost 11.5 square miles by 2pm yesterday.
On Monday, a helicopter was deployed to try and water bomb the area but the flames continued to spread
The fire tore through the Highlands as Scotland recorded its hottest day so far as temperatures hit 24.4C (76F) in Tyndrum, Perthshire
Wildfire expert Dr Thomas Smith said the images also showed ‘strong winds evident from the smoke plume’ meaning it could spread to become one of Scotland’s largest wildfires.
Scotland’s largest by burned area on record took place in May 2019 in between Melvich and Strathy, Sutherland, and covered 20.9 square miles.
Dr Smith told The Herald: ‘I think if it’s not contained by [Wednesday] morning, it could get close.’
The exact cause of the latest blaze is not yet known.
However, Forestry Land Scotland (FLS), the government agency which manages forests and land, believes it may be associated with wild camping.
It said there had been a similar incident in Tentsmuir Forest in Fife last Thursday, which was started by a campfire. FLS north region manager Alex MacLeod, said: ‘Many people are enjoying being out in the countryside to enjoy the hot weather but the lack of rain recently has made much of the countryside tinder-box dry.
‘Camping stoves are clearly recommended as being a better option than campfires but when the weather has been as hot as it has, and the ground is as dry as it is, neither are advisable.’
‘Regardless of how it started, this particular incident is a sobering reminder of how easily and quickly a wildfire can take hold and become a major problem.’
The SFRS has dealt with numerous wildfires across the Highlands in recent days.
Last week it issued a warning of a ‘very high risk’ of wildfire for Inverness-shire, Nairn, the Loch Ness area, Easter Ross and southern parts of Sutherland and up to the east coast of Caithness.
Two firefighters were injured as they responded to the blaze near Inverness on Sunday
The warnings come as Scotland looks set to enjoy another week of warm weather. Forecasters said the temperatures could climb to similar highs again today, with the West of the country expected to get the best of the conditions.
Met Office spokesman Nicola Maxey said: ‘We have high pressure dominating so lots of dry and fine weather across the country.
‘The West is looking likely to be the hottest, there is some cloud in the east and an inland breeze cooling things a little there.
While sometimes with high pressure we see temperatures build it doesn’t look like this is the case this week as that cloud is moving around but clearing from the West during the day time.
‘But what I will say is that temperatures are likely to hang around in the low 20s, depending on the cloud. By the weekend, they could possibly be into the high teens but the dry, fine weather could hang around into next week.’