A LONG-serving firefighter has been charged with starting three fires in the space of a few days.

Piper and musician David MacKay, 40, has denied three charges of wilful fire-raising at Fort William Sheriff Court and also the alternative charges that he acted in a culpable and reckless manner by allegedly starting the fires.

MacKay lives in the Argyll village of Strontian in Ardnamurchan, where a two-mile wide wildfire got out of control leading to fears the village would have to be evacuated. However, the blaze was eventually extinguished after two days.

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Retained fireman MacKay, who worked for Scottish Water at the time, pleaded not guilty that on March 27, 2013 at Carnoch Estate, near Strontian, he set fire to an area of forest near Carnoch electricity sub-station which destroyed the area of forest.

A second charge claimed that a few days later on April 1 at Bellgrove Mines,near Strontian, he torched grassland which was destroyed.

And the same day in nearby Glen Tarbert,it was said,he set fire to a forest which was destroyed along with fencing.

Sheriff Richard Davidson set MacKay's trial, in front of a jury, for August 18.

Not long before the alleged fire-raising MacKay was honoured at a ceremony and given a long-service medal to mark almost 20 years as a firefighter.