Facebook crucial in mobilising volunteers

As the raging fires spread rapidly throughout south - west Donegal, the social networking site Facebook and to a lesser degree, Twitter played a major part late on Sunday night in mobilising volunteers who arrived in large numbers to both Kilrane outside Glenties and Narin and Portnoo.

As the raging fires spread rapidly throughout south - west Donegal, the social networking site Facebook and to a lesser degree, Twitter played a major part late on Sunday night in mobilising volunteers who arrived in large numbers to both Kilrane outside Glenties and Narin and Portnoo.

The Donegal Democrat spoke to a number of people on the scene many of whose own personal property was in danger.

Tracy McKenna, a teacher and a member of the Donegal Mountain Rescue who lives in Kilraine said: “I wasn’t at home when it seemed to really get bad at around 10.30 but noticed it when I looked out the window. It was like something you would see in the cinema - a raging inferno.

“I immediately put it up on Facebook appealing for volunteers to get down there and help out.

“The forest behind our own house was blazing and being whipped up by gusting winds - we honestly thought that our home was going to go up in flames.

“Our neighbours the Mulhearn’s were in a worse situation - the fire was literally in their back yard with an oil tank sitting in the middle of it. There was a deep fear that this was on the verge of exploding which could have resulted in a major tragedy,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of people that came to help out - from as far away as Leitirmacaward who were experiencing their own problems, Loughross Point, Donegal Town - they had all seen it on Facebook.

“Without the local farmers and the many volunteers, homes would definitely have been destroyed before the Fire Brigade arrived from Dungloe,” she added.

“The brigade were fantastic and got it under control quite quickly - I just don’t know how they managed to be in so many places all at around the same times. For a voluntary body they are a credit.

“I would be very suspicious as to how this started - my parent went down at the very early stages of the outbreak just to ensure that there were no children down there - it is a popular spot for kids playing and they could see that the fire started in the picnic area.

“This is a quiet area and not known to many - my gut feeling is that it was either an act of irresponsible carelessness or a deliberate act. With conditions like they are now, my real fear is that it could start up again - the land is like a tinder - box.”