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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 April, 2003, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Renewed rain hopes for forest fires
Helicopter tackles forest fire
Helicopters have been used to fight the fires
Tired fire crews are hoping rain will finally put out scrubland fires in England and Wales on Sunday night.

Crews still battling blazes in Scotland, however, are expecting a dry night and no help from the weather.

By Sunday evening most fires had been brought under control in Wales, but pockets were still flickering after earlier-forecast rain failed to materialise.

Gwent and South Wales Fire Service spokesman Vince Armstrong said: "We were expecting rain which would have been extremely helpful.

"Any showers are going to help a little but we need quite a downpour to actually assist us in any major way.

We need quite a downpour to actually assist us in any major way
Gwent and South Wales Fire Service
"There are pockets of fire right across the brigade area and we will have to carry on fighting the fires until there is some rain."

The worst fire in South Wales was still said to be in the Abertillery area on the Cock and Chick Mountain and the Arrael Mountain.

Residents in the affected areas are being urged not to have barbecues or camp fires until weather conditions change.

A helicopter from the Forestry Commission was putting water down on the worst affected areas

Forest fears

In Scotland, where fires continue to burn on large swathes of land, rain is not expected until Monday.

The worst fire in Scotland is near Salen on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in the Highlands.

Crews from up to 50 miles away, supported by local volunteers and estate workers, as well as one water-bombing helicopter, battled a blaze there all day Sunday.

But they fear the flames, covering almost 45 square kilometres (28 square miles) could spread to a nearby forest.

These fires have put a great deal of strain on our resources and firefighters
Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade

Highland and Islands Fire Brigade's Hugh Henny said: "It is a fast developing situation which is changing all the time. The fire is not under control yet but we are pro-actively fighting it.

"Obviously the windy conditions and the very dry period of weather we are having is not helping us."

Mr Henny said the brigade was also dealing with several other grassland fires which were pushing its resources to the limit, although they were coping for the time being.

Rain coming

"These fires have put a great deal of strain on our resources and firefighters who have been working long periods in torrid and exhausting conditions."

In England, fires flared up again on Sunday on heathland in the Peak District.

Crews in Norfolk spent several hours dowsing grass and peat fires at Holt on Sunday morning.

The BBC weather centre said rain was expected to move up over England and Wales from the south overnight, with "heavy bursts" in some places.

But the wet weather is not expected to reach Scotland until Monday, with clear skies forecast overnight.

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