'Gorse fires may have been started maliciously'

Breaking News: Donegal firemen battle Clonmany mountain fire

By Michelle NicPhaidin

Reporter:

By Michelle NicPhaidin

Email:

news@donegaldemocrat.com

A gorse fire

Photo by Joe Brennan

A spokesperson for the Donegal fire service has urged people to be aware of the dangers of starting fires as three fire brigades battle to get a blaze under control in Clonmany. 

Three fire brigades are currently battling a blaze at the Raightín Mountain. 

Fire personnel have had to rush to extinguish fifty gorse fires across the county since April 30th. 

In the last number of days, there have been fires in Bundoran, Ballyshannon, Killybegs, Glenties, Dungloe and Falcarragh. 

Many of the blazes have taken place close to the coast. 

Since Thursday, the Inish Eoghain area has been extremely busy. 

The current dry spell of weather coupled with a strong breeze has meant that the climate is ideal for gorse fires.

Senior fire officer, Kevin McGarvey, urged people to support their local fire service by acting in a responsible manner.

He added that a number of the fires have been started maliciously and through careless behaviour.

Burning rubbish, leaving barbecues unattended and people burning dried out vegetation are also huge factors in starting fires.

Section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain exemptions, from March 1st to August 31st, inclusive.

Mr. McGarvey urged people to be vigilant adding that the lives of the public and fire officers are put at risk with these fires.

 Pressure is mounting on the fire service as gorse fires spread across the county. 

"Tackling gorse fires is extremely challenging, it means deploying fire fighters and equipment to remote locations for what can be prolonged periods of time, with fire crews working under hazardous conditions and in intense heat to bring these fires under control," he said. 

The senior fire officer warned that even a slight change in the direction of the wind can pose a serious risk to life, property and the environment. 

"We are appealing to everyone to be aware of the dangers of and consequences of deliberately starting gorse fires," he said. 

He urged people to extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly; not to throw cigarette butts out of car windows; to only use barbecues in designated and safe areas and to never leave them unattended; to ensure all barbecues are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of the contents; to avoid starting camp fires in the countryside and if you were to see a gorse fire taking hold, to immediately call 112 or 999. 

He added that anyone who witnesses any suspicious behaviour should report it immediately to An Garda Síochána.