UPDATE - Stornoway Trust say damage is extensive

The fire at Lews Castle Grounds is now under control but continues to be monitored.

A statement from the Factor of Stornoway Trust, Iain M Maciver said today: “A third successive fire broke out yesterday in the Castle Grounds, causing extensive damage again and included the destruction of some mature forest.

“The fire is now under control and will continue to be monitored. The Stornoway Trust again thank the Emergency Services for all their efforts under very difficult and dangerous conditions and appeal to the Public to be extremely vigilant while ground conditions continue to be so dry and vulnerable to fire.

“It would be appreciated if there is any evidence of further outbreaks, this should be reported immediately to the Stornoway Trust at 01851 702002 or the Emergency services.”

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said: “The magnificent Castle Grounds is a place of rich heritage and of great importance to us all as islanders.

“The recent fires are of concern to us all and not least to the Stornoway Trust.

“I applaud the efforts of the emergency services during this time.”

The Gazette’s weather columnist Dr Eddie Graham said the lack of rainfall over the last month meant the region may have experienced one of the driest spells on record.

He said: “The last day with “significant” (i.e. rainfall which penetrates the ground) rainfall in Stornoway was 13th May, and before that it’s way back to 17th April. The June total to date is only between one and five mm across the island, hardly enough to more than temporarily damp the ground. And the northeast winds are contributing to the dryness too, as well as the strong sunshine. There’s no definite sign of a return to the more usual (rainy) south-west winds yet.”