THERE is a "very high" risk of wildfires for parts of central Scotland this weekend, according to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

A precautionary appeal has been issued to anyone who might be in the countryside this weekend, with the recent weather conditions said to provide a fertile ground for fires to catch and burn.

The warning is placed for today, Friday, March 10, and through parts of the weekend, SFRS chiefs have said.

They add that the weather pattern over the next few days – dominated by low-pressure, warm air to the south and cold air to the north and low humidity in the Southwest – increases the risk.

At this time of year, the dead grass and heather left over from last year can dry very quickly due to a combination of frost, low relative humidity, sunshine and wind.  If ignited, it can act as fuel, which can spread wildfires over a wide area.

The risk rating for central-eastern Scotland is "very high" with the risk rating in south-west Scotland said to be "extreme". Both ratings are in place until Saturday, March 11.

The fire service recently launched its new prevention campaign called Care for your Countryside.

John Harvey, a station commander with SFRS, said: "Over the next few days while this wildfire warning is in place, we urge people to act safely and responsibly in the countryside.

"Wildfires have devastating effects on our countryside and are extremely damaging to the environment, wildlife and nearby communities.

“With dry, winter conditions this weekend, wildfires could burn and spread with very high intensity in high-risk areas.

"Therefore, we are asking people to act responsibly when enjoying the outdoors, dispose of cigarettes carefully and please think twice before using anything involving a naked flame."

Many wildfires are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless or irresponsible behaviour and that risk peaks during early Spring.

People who live, work or are visiting rural areas, in particular, are being urged to exercise the utmost caution to avoid fires breaking out.