Scottish wildfire seen from space sends stark warning says union

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Firefighters in Scotland battle a severe wildfire near Cannich, south of Inverness, last week sparking a call for urgent action from the Fire Brigades Union.

The blaze, extending across 7,400 hectares, has produced a plume of smoke so extensive that NASA was able to capture the images from space. Two firefighters sustained injuries amidst the firefight but have since been discharged from the hospital.

Given the vast terrain, physically challenging conditions, and the need to transport equipment manually under intense heat, wildfires demand a significant firefighting force for response. However, the past decade of budget cuts has left fire and rescue services grappling for resources, while climate-related incidents have become more frequent and severe.

Notably, temperatures in parts of the UK topped 40 degrees centigrade for the first time in recorded history in July 2022, escalating wildfire risks. Furthermore, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service announced additional cuts last week, which will lead to the loss of ten fire appliances, thereby reducing fire cover and impinging on firefighters’ capacity to respond to incidents.

Since 2010, the UK has seen a reduction of 11,500 firefighters, with Scotland alone losing 1,100 firefighters since 2013.

The real dangers of the climate emergency

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), underscored the dire situation by pointing out that the recent blaze is “believed to be one of the biggest wildfires in UK history and which can be seen from space.”

Referring to the firefighters injured during the operation, Wrack emphasised the “real dangers of the climate emergency.” He warned that wildfires, like the one currently burning in Cannich, are on a rising trajectory year by year. He urged: “All governments must heed this stark warning,” and called for “urgent climate action to prevent loss of life,” alongside a significant investment in fire services.

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