Newhailes vandalism: Staff called to two fires in Musselburgh woodland

Two fires had to be extinguished at a beauty spot in Musselburgh – the latest incident following a spate of vandalism in East Lothian.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 9:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 9:33 pm
One of the fires that had to be put out on Tuesday at Newhailes picture: supplied

Flames were spotted in a wooded area within the grounds of the Newhailes National Trust Estate at about 4pm on Tuesday, 6 April.

The estate has become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour during lockdown and it is understood the latest fires were started by a group of young people.

Operations Manager Claire Grant said when staff arrived at the scene the flames were already 5ft high and damaging overhanging branches in the area.

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"Staff were met with abuse and the boys ran off,” she said.

"We have photographs of the boys which have been forwarded to the police.

"We extinguished the fire as it was in an dense area of woodland, several trees could have caught fire.”

Just three hours later at about 7pm, staff were again alerted to a second fire opposite the estate’s Shell Grotto.

Ms Grant said: “A group of youths had lit a fire under a very old yew tree.

"A member of the public called the police and fire service."

Staff posted a message on the Newhailes House and Gardens Facebook page thanking the community for helping prevent two “potentially catastrophic fire raising incidents.”

Ms Grant added: “We are very grateful to the support we are receiving from the local community alerting us to suspicious and antisocial behaviour.

"We are working closely with the community warden and local community police.”

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “We were alerted at 6.31pm on Tuesday, April 6 to reports of a fire in the open within Newhailes Estate, Musselburgh.

“Operations Control mobilised one appliance to the scene.

“Firefighters extinguished the fire and left after ensuring the area was made safe.

“There were no reported casualties.”

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