Army ‘glad to help’

More than 100 soldiers, helicopter crews, medics and drivers have been deployed to Donegal to combat the extensive fires that have raged for the last three days around Dungloe.

More than 100 soldiers, helicopter crews, medics and drivers have been deployed to Donegal to combat the extensive fires that have raged for the last three days around Dungloe.

Two army helicopters are carrying out water drops in the Dungloe area, while a third is helping fire officers survey and assist the situation.

Captain Declan Sheridan, who is based at Finner Camp, was in Dungloe on Sunday and told the Democrat/People’s Press yesterday how the Army became involved.

“An aircraft was sent to Donegal at around 12 noon on Sunday and the crew carried out reconnaissance of the entire area around Dungloe. An officer then met with Joe McTaggart, the Deputy Fire Officer and Station Master Brian Greene in Dungloe to brief them on what he had seen. Following the meeting, a formal request was made to the Army for air corp assistance in carrying out water drops, provision of troops to help with the firefighting efforts on the ground and for fire personnel to go up in the army helicopters to better direct the firefighting efforts. By the time this formal request was made, all three actions were already in motion.”

Captain Gerry Casey, Operations and Press Officer, who was also in Dungloe on Sunday, paid tribute to the Donegal Fire Services personnel. “From what I saw yesterday, the fire crews were incredible. They are a credit to the county. Some of them were on the go non-stop for over 30 hours.”

More than 100 Army personnel were in Donegal non Sunday and Monday, and another 50 left Athlone for the county last night. this numer does not include drivers, medics and other support personnel.

“Our troops are starting out at 5am and returning to their barracks at 11pm. We’re working flat out.”

As of last night, the situation was still described as “potentially dangerous”.

Captain Casey said: “The water drops and all the work have alleviated the situation somewhat. It’s not as bad as it was on Sunday. But it’s still potentially dangerous and volatile because of the dry conditions and the warm winds.

“We’re happy to help and fully committed to being here until the danger is past.”