The outbreak of gorse, bog and forest fires throughout the country during the May Bank Holiday weekend has been described as ‘unprecedented’by the Irish Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA). Over the weekend hundreds of Fire Service personnel attended to scores of fires in counties Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo, Longford, Cavan, Roscommon, Offaly, Louth, Westmeath, Clare, Galway and Mayo. Attempts are continuing to control and contain fires in several counties.
“The last few days have been one of the busiest periods for the Fire Service nationwide in recent years. Indeed, the geographical spread of separate incidents across the country is unprecedented. This has placed a huge strain on Fire Services in the affected counties,” says Adrian Kelly, chief fire officer (Clare) and CFOA vice chairman. “A combination of strong winds and the continuing dry conditions exacerbated the situation by causing fires to spread, particularly across Donegal. The arrival of rain in affected areas over the next 48 hours will provide a significant boost to emergency services in tackling the continuing threat of fires.”
He condemns individuals who had started fires deliberately. “Such reckless actions have placed the lives of both members of the local community and also firefighters at risk. These fires have also destroyed hundreds of acres of gorse land, forestry and bogs, with negative consequences for property, tourism and wildlife,” he adds.