The number of wildfires across the north-east has increased more than five-fold in a year, latest figures have revealed.
During just a two-month period last summer, firefighters recorded 246 blazes affecting grassland, woodland and crops across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray.
The figure is a steep increase on the previous year’s figure of 44 outbreaks – captured between June and August 2017.
In Aberdeen, there were 69 fires in summer 2018, compared with 11 in the same two-month period in 2017.
Meanwhile, 177 blazes were recorded across Aberdeenshire and Moray between June and August 2018, up from just 33 the previous year.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) assistant chief officer Ross Haggart warned that the impact of large fires in the open can be devastating for communities, wildlife and farmland.
He said: “Huge swathes of land can be left ravaged by these fires, which can spread easily through high winds.
“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.
“People can help us by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas.”
Earlier this year, two huge blazes devastated rural areas near Knockando and Dunphail in Moray, one of which was reported as being the largest of its kind seen in the UK, eventually destroying more than 20 square miles of grassland in the area.
Meanwhile, crews were called to the Scotstown Nature Reserve in Bridge of Don in April as flames tore across a field and crept to within 150ft of neighbouring properties.