Police probe bonfire as spark for forest blaze

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An Argyll village had a close shave as a major fire raged in the hills nearby – and police believe it may have started with a garden bonfire.

The fire broke out above the Loch Fyne-side village of Furnace on Saturday May 6 on the slopes of Dun Leacainn, which dominates the local landscape.

By 3.30pm it was spreading west and north through more than 60 acres of forested land towards the A83 trunk road, which was closed by the police for a period .

Police Scotland later confirmed that a man had been charged in connection with the incident.

Fire crews from Minard and Inveraray initially tackled the blaze, which worked its way quickly through a young conifer plantation, reaching the A83 verges in places. Firefighters from Arrochar and Lochgilphead later arrived to join the operation.

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘At 3.02pm on Saturday May 6, reports were received of a grass fire north of Furnace near the A83.

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‘A total of four crews were mobilised to the incident, which at its height had a fire front of approximately one mile.’

‘Firefighters used beaters and high-powered hoses to prevent the fire from spreading.

‘There were no casualties and crews left the scene at 10.04pm after ensuring that the area was made safe.’

Sergeant Iain MacNicol of Lochgilphead police office said: ‘Enquiries into the cause have resulted in a man aged 76 being charged with allegedly burning garden waste and failing to ensure the bonfire was properly extinguished. A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.’

Mike Masters, chair of Furnace Community Council, said: ‘Furnace folk were certainly shocked at the extent of the fire and very relieved that the wind was blowing away from the village or the consequences could have been very serious.’