Fires ‘nearly out’ but danger persists

While most of the extensive fires that raged across the county for the last three days have been put out or are under control, reports are coming in of a new, serious gorse fire outside of Doochary in the direction of Dungloe.

While most of the extensive fires that raged across the county for the last three days have been put out or are under control, reports are coming in of a new, serious gorse fire outside of Doochary in the direction of Dungloe.

And fire officers warn that danger still exists of renewed outbreaks.

Fire crews, army helicopters and personnel, civil defence, fire crews from Carrickfinn airport and hundreds of volunteers worked shifts of up to 30 hours or more over Bank Holiday weekend combatting major fires in Malin Head, Buncrana, Glenvar, Ballyshannon, Ardara, Glenties, Termon, Dungloe, Doochary, Meenacross, Lettermacaward, Crolly and Loughanure as well as countless smaller fires in other locations. Most of the fires were in upland areas of gorse, scrubland or forestry, but in some areas, particularly Dungloe and Ballyshannon, houses had to be evacuated and one house at Dooballagh, Ballyshannon was burnt to the ground.

Speaking this morning, Donegal Acting Fire Chief Bobby McMenamin said: “The current position is that the Dungloe fire has been closed down. The fire out in the Ardara/Glenties area is under control and being monitored by Coillte personnel. Our main focus today is on a fire in the Muckish mountain area. There there are 50 Army personnel, 2 units of the fire brigade and two army helicopters dealing with that and hopefully that fire will be under control by lunchtime.

“There are various smaller fires around the county, one down in the Milford area and one down in the Buncrana area and we hope that those will be got under control shortly.”

He said the danger of new outbreaks remains high. “I would still warn people to be very, very careful and I ask them not to be lighting fires outside and not to be careless with light-related objects. Conditions are still ideal for gorse fires. We have windy conditions, very dry conditions out on the land there and I would ask people to be very, very careful until the rain comes at the weekend.”

Deputy Fire Officer Joe Taggart added: “Our resources have been stretched to the limit. Crews have been out doing very long shifts of physically demanding work in extremely difficult conditions. There is a limit to how much more they could be expected to cope with after all of that.”