A DELIBERATE fire which destroyed a small shelter in woodland came close to causing an environmental disaster.

The blaze in the Loch Doon area, near The Roundhouse, also ravaged a large section of grazing land but could have had more severe consequences.

There are a number of Scottish birds of prey in the area, sitting on a clutches of eggs at this time of year, which narrowly averted being burnt alive.

That is the reality of the outbreak which happened between 4pm and 4.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday, May 7, and led to a warning from Safer Communities Officer, Craig Marshall.

He said: “As well as the avoidable use of vital resources — several fire appliances were deployed to the fire — rare birds were in danger of being killed.

“We always encourage people to use open spaces in the Doon Valley but they must show respect for wildlife in the area.

“PC McDade of the local community policing team is urging anyone who has information to get in touch with him at Cumnock Police office.

“Calls can be made to 101 but also to Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111 where they can be made anonymously.”

A spokesman for Scottish Fire and Rescue added: “The cost to the service and our communities is staggering, with an estimated average cost of £2,000 for attendance at such incidents.

“As well as potentially delaying attendance at a more serious incident, fire setting can result in injury, property damage and environmental pollution.

“In the spring and summer months, deliberately set grass or heathland fires can quickly spread out of control, putting people and property at risk.”

Wildfires are also extremely dangerous as they can spread fast and change direction in seconds, threatening wildlife, livestock, domestic animals, environment, property and people.

In addition, they can start in remote areas which make it difficult for fire crews to get to the outbreak which also can have dire consequences.

Anyone who sees a fire, however small, should call 999 immediately, and give the emergency services as much detail as possible.

If you know the best access point let them know and, if safe to do so, stand by the access point and speak to fire crews when they arrive.