THE train made famous by Harry Potter has been blamed for causing a series of wildfires across the Scottish Highlands.
Fire chiefs say the Jacobite Steam Train, whose track is used for scenes starring the Hogwarts Express, is spewing sparks and setting light to the surrounding dry grasslands.
The train, that runs twice a day in the summer and has been voted the world’s best rail journey three times, is causing a growing concern among landowners over damage caused by the brushland blazes.
Rail and fire bosses warn there may be no solution to the problem and locals have nicknamed the route the west ‘toast’ railway line.
But they have said that future problems are unlikely because if a fire happens once then it is unlikely to happen again as there is nothing left to burn – only a charred patch of land.
Earlier in the year nearly 100 acres of heathland was destroyed near Morar in the western highlands after one of the devastating fires took hold.
Four fire appliances and 30 firefighters were called out to deal with the fire.
More than 30 acres of moorland near Lochailort also went up in smoke in May after a heath fire spread rapidly.
Four fire appliances and 24 firefighters were called out to bring the fierce blaze under control.
Thousands of visitors travel on the 84-mile round trip between Fort William and Mallaig every year and enjoy picturesque scenes which featured in the blockbuster film, including the Glenfinnan viaduct.
The railway line passes through several estates, including Glenfinnan, Ardnish, Inverailort and Arnipol.
Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service Lochaber group manager, Pat McElhinnhey, said: “The fire was well alight when we got there and we’re sure it was sparked by the steam train.
“The prompt actions of the fire crews prevented the fire spreading over the hill.”
Often described as one of the great railway journeys of the world, the trip takes travellers from Ben Nevis all the way to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis.
As well as Harry Potter fame, the railway line also passes through Morar and the silvery beaches used in the films “Highlander” and “Local Hero”.
The Jacobite, provided the steam engine and carriages for the ‘Hogwarts Express’ as seen in the ‘Harry Potter’ films including The Philosopher’s Stone.