GAMEKEEPERS IN Stirlingshire helped fire crews contain a potentially devastating wildfire at the end of last week.

The fire broke out near Bannockburn around mid afternoon on Friday. The fire started in the woodland but the flames spread out onto open hill, which posed a threat to nesting territories for wading birds.

Six gamekeepers from Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group were on the scene quickly with leaf blowers – which they normally use to manage controlled legal muirburn – which has been temporarily suspended during lockdown. In total, an area of around three acres was burnt, but the fire could have been much worse, had the flames not been tackled quickly.

It is not certain how the Stirlingshire fire started but people were seen walking around the area where it started, not long before flames were first seen. With the fire hazard warning remaining very high, members of the public taking access to hills during Covid-19 lockdown have been warned not to light fires and barbecues.

“The conditions have been really dry," said Alice Bugden, co-ordinator of the group. “When one of our gamekeepers from a local estate saw the flames, he quickly called around others and they were on the scene pretty quickly, along with farmers and other volunteers.

“Because of their skills in managing controlled muirburn, the local keepers have a lot of fire knowledge and equipment to help," she continued. "They have all pretty much signed up to assist, whenever called upon. When the fire crews arrived, the blaze was brought under control and a good job, too. Breeding waders are under so much predation pressure and it would have been tragic if their territories were burnt out.”