People going into the countryside to enjoy the spring weather are being urged to take extreme care not to start wildfires.

The warning, from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) comes after a spate of fires throughout the country.

Bruce Farquharson, chairman of the Scottish Wildfire Forum, said: "At the start of spring there is often a lot of dead vegetation leftover from last year - this fuel can dry out quickly with higher temperatures and lower humidity levels.

"A great many people will be enjoying the outdoors in the good weather, so we urge everyone to make sure that they don’t increase the chance of wildfire – be aware of the risks and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before starting a fire.

"Wildfires are a major threat to our wildlife and wild places. We encourage people visiting the outdoors to be extra careful.

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"The public can help prevent wildfires by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas.

"Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting so it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly in rural environments and follow the countryside code.”

Leading fire officer Rab Middlemass echoed Mr Farquharson's warning, saying: “As the warm and dry weather continues, so too does the risk of wildfire.

“We have seen in the last week just how challenging these fires can become - many rural and remote communities are hugely impacted by these incidents, which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.

"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.

“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."

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