The acting chief fire officer in Donegal Bobby McMenamin says “the situation looks more hopeful” this morning and that the remarkable spate of forest and gorse fires across the county may be coming to an end.
At 1am last night (Wednesday) fire fighters stood down after spending much of the evening fighting a major fire in a private forestry near Fintown and Ballybofey where approximately ten acres of privately owned forestry was lost. Units from Letterkenny and Stranorlar and personnel from the private forestry fought the blaze. There were four different seats of fire within the one forestry which added to the difficulties.
This morning Mr McMenamin said he hoped to ask the army personnel who have been assisting the fire service to assist in bringing ongoing fires in the Falacarragh area and near Muckish Mountain to a close.
Yesterday afternoon and evening five fire brigades and two helicopters carrying bambi buckets with payloads of 1200 litres of water were used to fight a considerable fire in the Glenties area. According to Mr McMenamin Coillte forestry staff managed this fire fighting operation in conjunction with the fire service. The two fire tenders from nearby Carrickfin Airport - as they have done all week - assisted here.
The fire chief said fire fighters concentrated their efforts on saving property and houses and he confirmed a short time ago that no homes or property were lost. Mr McMenamin also confirmed that no fire personnel have been hurt or injured in the entire operation - although he conceded that many of the men were extremely tired having battled serious fires across the county for the best part of a week now.
At the moment he said there have been no new call outs and the plan now is to send the Army spotter helicopter across the areas of concern this morning to assess what action might be needed on the ground.
The likelihood of rain by late afternoon or evening and an easing in wind strengths, will considerably assist in ensuring that an incredible week of fire activity in Donegal and across the country comes to an end.
The next major task will be to assess the extent of the damage and the avenues open to land and home owners in relation to compensation for the damage that has been caused.