An investigation is under way into whether a series of fires at an Aberdeen beauty spot were started on purpose – after firefighters were called to the scene more than 30 times in 13 days.
Firefighters have been called to a spate of fires at the Gramps nature reserve on Kincorth Hill and officers have been working with police to establish the cause of the fires.
Police said they are keeping an open mind about how the blazes started and have urged anyone with information to get in touch.
Officers said a blaze which broke out on nearby Nigg – on land beside Balnagask Golf Club – on Monday morning was started deliberately.
It is understood fire crews found signs of accelerant at the scene.
Crews spent almost two hours dampening down gorse on the land in an effort to stop the fire restarting again.
However, strong winds from Storm Ali led to the land catching fire again on Wednesday and fire officers were called out once more.
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It is understood that as the Gramps is enclosed – unlike the scene of the Nigg fire – it is harder for investigators to establish if people or vehicles were there when fires started.
Police said they were at the early stages of an investigation into the spate of fires.
Sergeant Jonathan Spence, of Torry Community Policing Team, said: “In relation to the recent fires at the Gramps, we are keeping an open mind and would encourage anyone who has any information suggesting they may be wilful to contact police.”
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Aberdeen group manager Darren Riddell added: “There has been a large number of wildfires within a relatively short space of time and these can have a significant impact not only on the lives of local people but on our wildlife and our environment.
“There are numerous sites of historical importance on the Gramps so it’s imperative that we work together to protect such areas.”
He added: “We are presently working very closely with our partners at Aberdeen City Council and Police Scotland as well as local wildlife rangers to ensure the safety of our communities.
“I would ask the community to assist in any way possible and that includes contacting police with any information they might have in relation to these fires.
“I would like to thank our partners and indeed our firefighters for their efforts throughout these incidents.
“It has been a serious combined effort.”
The fire service said it is unable to confirm the number of times it has been called to the Gramps since September 7, the date of the first known call-out in recent months.
The most recent fire started at 10.50am yesterday. Three appliances, including a specialist forestry unit, attended to put it out and crews returned at 4pm to extinguish embers.
Referring to the Nigg fires, Sgt Spence said: “It goes without saying how serious the consequences of fire can be.
“We are carrying out additional patrols in the Nigg area as well as working to support our colleagues at the fire service.
“Wilful fire-raising is a serious offence and we would encourage anyone with concerns or information to contact us as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information about fires at the Gramps or Nigg should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to remain anonymous.