Fire on Balmoral Estate

Firefighters from five Grampian stations battled a serious hill fire on the Balmoral Estate this week.

The incident reportedly began at around 2.25pm on Monday (May 2) and firefighters from Balmoral, Ballater, Altens, Braemar and Aboyne, as well as estate staff, were still in attendance, damping down on Tuesday afternoon (May 3).

A large patch of heather and gorse was well alight on the 55,000-acre estate and crews were working to extinguish the blaze.

A search and rescue helicopter was called to the blaze and used buckets of water to try to douse the flames, which reportedly burned three miles south of the Queen’s Deeside residence.

Grampian Fire & Rescue Service area manager Andy Coueslant said: “At its peak, the fire front was estimated to be 750m long in very rough terrain, which is very hard to reach. Firefighters and Balmoral Estate staff had to walk into the area and the majority of firefighting effort was completely manual, using handheld firebeaters.

“The assistance of the helicopter was invaluable. I pay tribute to all those involved in this incident. This incident highlights the care that must be taken during periods of dry weather in grass and woodland areas.”

Garry Mardsen, visitor enterprise manager at Balmoral, said on Tuesday: “At present, the information I have regarding the fire is that it has been contained for the time being. Balmoral has had help from neighbouring estates and the fire service to contain the fire and no buildings were at risk.”

Speaking about fire safety at this time of year, area manager Coueslant added: “The weather has been great and unusually dry for the time of year and more and more people are taking advantage of it.

“Whether that’s taking a walk in the countryside or having a barbecue in the back garden, we want everybody to enjoy themselves safely. The holiday weekend has seen a number of parties across the Grampian area and the mixture of hot weather, party atmosphere and alcohol is sometimes a recipe for disaster.

“As the good weather continues throughout the summer, we are urging people to plan ahead, be particularly careful of any open flame, extinguish smoking materials properly, consider other people’s safety as well as your own and enjoy the summer. All big fires start as little fires so be careful and don’t become a fire statistic.”

Since Friday morning (April 29) Grampian Fire and Rescue Service have attended 24 incidents across Grampian - five were barbecue-related, 10 due to carelessly- discarded smoking materials, nine were started deliberately and one was a controlled burning getting out of hand. Thirty-seven fire engines have been mobilised, which represents around 148 firefighters.