Extreme fire warning extended until Monday as gorse fires rage

Published by Niall Sargent on

June 29th, 2018

The State has extended an extreme fire risk warning until Monday afternoon as high temperatures and drought conditions influence a glut of gorse fires across the country.

In a statement released today, the Department of Agriculture said that the fire risk is “compounded” by high levels of ignitions activity and “observed fire behaviour” associated with current weather conditions.

“DAFM advise at this point that all outdoor use of fires, barbeques and other open ignition sources be avoided on forest lands and in other high-risk areas until further notice,” the statement reads.

“Extreme caution is also advised with respect to haymaking and the use of machinery and other agricultural activity that may also present a risk of fire in dry vegetation on cultivated land types in current conditions.”

Coillte has also appealed to the public to exercise extreme caution, with the state forestry body fighting forest fires across the country over the past two weeks.

Water zones under restriction have increased to 28 today and the number of “at risk” zones is now at 128, according to Irish Water.

It confirmed this afternoon that a ban on the use of hosepipes for the likes of washing cars or watering plants will come into effect across the Greater Dublin Area from Monday until the end of July.

The utility has the power to bring in measures to suppress demand by restricting non-essential customer use under the Water Supply Act 2007.

“We will take necessary legal measures available to us to ensure that we minimise risk of supply loss to businesses and communities,” the body said in a statement this afternoon.

Gorse fires rage across the country

Numerous gorse and grass fires have ignited during the hot, dry weather, with firefighters in counties Carlow, Clare, Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Kildare, and Wexford all battling blazes over the past few days.

In Cork, the fire service attended a major gorse fire in Anglesboro, Co. Limerick together with the Defence Forces, as well as fires in almost twenty locations this week, including Kinsale, Cobh and Bantry.

Speaking on RTE Radio One yesterday, Dublin Fire Brigade Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Dennis Keeley, said that a family had a lucky escape on Wednesday in the Dublin Mountains.

The family were trapped on the Old Military Road after a change in wind direction reduced visibility. The family were forced to abandon their vehicle, which was later found burned out by the fire.

Mr Keeley said that some recent fires are believed to have been “started deliberately”, pointing to anecdotal reports of young children starting the fires.

It is currently an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated from 1 March to 31 August.

Last year, the Irish Wildlife Trust wrote to the European Commission about Ireland’s failure to tackle illegal wildfires and protect threatened wildlife in our uplands as required under the Birds and Habitats Directives.

In its formal complaint to the Commission, the conservation charity presented evidence of 97 illegal wildfires started between 24 March and 22 May 2017 across 19 counties.

Forty per cent of the fires occurred in sites with special protection or conservation status, including Killarney National Park, Wicklow Mountains National Park and the Ox Mountains in Co Sligo.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London