Po­lice of­fi­cers step up Gramps pa­trols

10 fires re­ported in past week

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KIERAN BEAT­TIE

PO­LICE of­fi­cers have in­creased pa­trols at Aberdeen’s Gramps re­gion af­ter more than 10 fires were re­ported over the past seven days.

The emer­gency ser­vices have spent hours deal­ing with gorse fires on the hill amidst fears they are be­ing de­lib­er­ately started.

And though fire teams have stressed there is “no ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal­ity” they have made clear they “don’t be­lieve in co­in­ci­dence”.

Yes­ter­day a spokesman for the fire ser­vice said they would “work closely with the po­lice to iden­tify any in­di­vid­u­als set­ting fires”.

Coun­cil chiefs said swathes of heath­land and trees had been de­stroyed while only the in­ter­ven­tion of fire crews had pre­vented dam­age to his­toric sites.

Po­lice have stepped up pa­trols on a fire-rav­aged Aberdeen hill­side af­ter more than 10 blazes in less than a week.

Fire teams say they have so far found no ev­i­dence that the fires were started de­lib­er­ately but they also sus­pect the re­cent spate is no ac­ci­dent.

Emer­gency ser­vices have been dis­patched to the Gramps district of the city to deal with sig­nif­i­cant gorse blazes ev­ery day since Fri­day last week.

Around 11am yes­ter­day, teams were called out once more, spend­ing sev­eral hours on the hill to ex­tin­guish the flames.

Although many of the fires to have struck the area over the last week have been rel­a­tively small, some have sent huge vol­umes of smoke bil­low­ing in to the skies above the city.

Parts of the land­scape have been left charred and scarred, scoured of veg­e­ta­tion by the flames.

So far, no ev­i­dence of foul play has been dis­cov­ered any­where on the site but last night Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice group man­ager Dar­ren Rid­dell said: “We don’t be­lieve in co­in­ci­dence”.

Be­fore last Fri­day, fire crews had only been called out to the Gramps eight times this year – a num­ber of those in­stances amid the worst of the sum­mer heat­wave which caused chaos across Mo­ray and the High­lands.

Yes­ter­day evening, Mr Rid­dell said po­lice were now in­ves­ti­gat­ing the source of the blazes and urged walk­ers en­joy­ing the nat­u­ral beauty of the area to be care­ful with open flames.

He said: “We un­der­stand it can be dis­tress­ing and wor­ry­ing for the com­mu­nity when they see these fires.

“We can con­firm that we are work­ing closely with Po­lice Scot­land in or­der to iden­tify the cause of these in­ci­dents and take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tions.

“It is im­por­tant that peo­ple are aware that the ground is still very dry fol­low­ing the re­cent pe­riod of hot weather we have ex­pe­ri­enced.

“Please do not dis­card lit cig­a­rettes, do not start camp fires, take rub­bish home and do not drop lit­ter in the area.”

He added: “Although there has been no ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal­ity, we do not be­lieve in co­in­ci­dences.

“These fires have all been started at the same times in the same ar­eas.

“There­fore, po­lice have stepped up pa­trols. The Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice will work closely with the po­lice to iden­tify any in­di­vid­u­als set­ting fires de­lib­er­ately and to bring them to jus­tice.”

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion about sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity in the Gramps district is urged to phone the po­lice on 101 or Crimestop­pers anony­mously on 0800 111 555.

RAV­AGED: A se­ries of dam­ag­ing fires in the Gramps area have prompted warn­ings and left the slopes charred and scoured of veg­e­ta­tion

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