Forres shrouded in smoke as wildfire rages across moorland

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Wildfire moray
This deep orange sunset taken between Dallas and Forres was created by the smoke that blew over from the wildfire. Picture: Marc Hindley

Forres and surrounding villages became shrouded in smoke yesterday as a wildfire raged 20km away and wind carried ash over the town.

Residents woke today to find the lingering smell still in the air, and ash falling after the blaze on the Ballindalloch Highland Estate, where firefighters battled through the night to bring the fire under control.

Wind blew the cloud of smoke north-east over Dallas, Rafford and Forres, and many people have posted pictures on social networks.

Smoke cloud lingers over Forres
The smoke cloud lingers over Forres. Pic: Marc Hindley

Facebook user Mike Hendry commented on the page ‘Forres: Then and Now’: “What a stench of smoke in town. Plus it’s raining ash. What’s going on?”

More than 50 firefighters were tackling the blaze at one point and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have warned the public to take extra care in the current dry climate, which has seen Scotland hotter than Morocco in the past few days and record temperatures of 24 degrees.

Local Senior Officer at Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Rab Middlemiss said: “As the warm and dry weather continues, so too does the risk of wildfire.”

“Livestock, farmland, wildlife, protected woodland and sites of special scientific interest can all be devastated by these fires – as can the lives of people living and working in rural communities.”

No cause has yet been established, but he emphasises that the public should be conscious of simple acts that prevent fires starting.

“We are appealing to people to take great care – it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly in rural environments and follow the countryside code.

“Just one heat source like a campfire ember can cause it to ignite and if the wind changes direction even the smallest fire can spread uncontrollably and devastate entire hillsides.”

There were also concerns for the environment.

On the same Facebook page, James Grant posted a deep orange sunset and said: “My view over Forres last night from the back door. It may look nice but the outlook for the future is not so good… More bush fires, water shortages, etc. we all need to be more vigilant and respect this beautiful part of Scotland. Not just for us but for the plants and animals that make this place special.”