CONCERNS have been raised over an increase in the number of wildfires being recorded by the emergency services.

New figures show there were a total of 223 such incidents in the Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde region between June and August last year.

And, across Scotland as a whole, the number of wildfires recorded last summer was around four times higher than in 2017.

An increase in deliberate primary and secondary fires has also been highlighted by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Primary fires generally involve property and include buildings, caravans and motor vehicles, whilst secondary fires are often minor and include the burning of rubbish.

The fire service has now launched a #StampItOut summer safety campaign to warn those who start fires on purpose and risk the safety of communities that it will do everything in its power to help police trace them.

SFRS assistant chief officer Ross Haggart said: “These incidents put lives, property and the environment at risk. They can also delay firefighters in getting to a real emergency, such as a house fire, where every minute counts.

“Firefighters will be there to respond when called upon but please think twice before deliberately starting a fire.”

On the rise in the number of wildfires, Mr Haggart added: "The SFRS works tirelessly every year with our partners to help keep communities safe from these types of incidents but communities can help us too.

“That’s why 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.

“People can help us by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas.”

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