HELICOPTERS were deployed to tackle a major wildfire on a Hebridean island. Specialist crews flew to Rum after flames took hold on the hillside.

The blaze spread across as much as 50 acres of the Black Cuillin of Rum ridge before petering out thanks to overnight rain. However, witnesses said some of the landscape has been “pretty devastated”.

The incident began on Wednesday afternoon and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) was due to visit the site yesterday to assess the situation. A spokesman for the service told STV News: “We will take boats across today to assess the situation again.”

By noon Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which owns Rum attraction Kinloch Castle and the island’s national nature reserve – the largest in the country – said the fire was “completely out”.

The body had called in the helicopters to water bomb affected areas.

Although the causes of the blaze are not known, the SFRS tweeted: “Risk of wildfires is higher this time of year due to the dead vegetation leftover from last year.

“We urge other land owners [to] be vigilant during dry weather [and] members of public [and] land managers act safely [and] responsibly to prevent wildfire.”

Members of conservation group Rum Deer Research reported concerns about the fire on Wednesday, including fears that its research facilities might be affected.

But on social media yesterday morning, the group said: “Fire seems to be out after overnight rain. Stopped just above trees in Kilmory Glen. Buildings survived. Sgaorishal and Minishal hills pretty devastated.”

Rum, one of the Small Isles, has one of the largest National Nature Reserves (NNR) in Scotland, which is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage. The island has some unique landscape and wildlife including a mountain-top colony of Manx shearwater.

The Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT) was set up in 2007 to acquire and manage land and buildings from SNH. It now owns about 65 hectares of mixed land, three crofts, 10 domestic properties and eight non-domestic properties in and around Kinloch village.

SNH continues to have a significant presence as an employer and landowner of the NNR and the visitor attraction of Kinloch Castle. Built around 1900 by the Bullough family, which owned Rum, it was bought by a forerunner of SNH in 1957.

Today, the castle operates as a hostel, providing the largest accommodation for visitors to the island, and a museum.

It still has many original features including an Orchestrion, a machine that plays music and is designed to sound like an orchestra or band.

Due to being built from sandstone, the castle has seriously deteriorated over the years. SNH and The Princes Regeneration Trust (PRT) have developed plans for the castle’s restoration.

Funding is not currently at the present time but the Scottish Government, Historic Scotland and PRT will continue to look at alternative funding solutions.