NEWS

West Donegal gorse fires now under control - one house destroyed, thousands of acres scorched

Michael Daly

Reporter:

Michael Daly

Email:

michael.daly@donegaldemocrat.com

Two houses destroyed by gorse fires in west Donegal

The remains of the house at Drumnacart destroyed by Friday's fires Picture Micheal Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig

One house and two sheds were destroyed in the Annagry area of west Donegal on Friday by gorse fires which were fought by up to 100 fire fighters and dozens of locals.

The house in Drumnacart, Annagry was engulfed by flames while two sheds in that area, one of them it's understood containing tractors and farm machinery, were also destroyed by fire.

A fire fighter dousing the house at Drumnacart, Annagry with water.

It was confirmed this morning that no one sustained injuries as a result of the fires.

11 fire appliances and up to 100 fire fighters, backed up by the 118 rescue helicopter from Sligo and hundreds of local people battled the fires which erupted in the Kerrytown area and made their way over a huge swathe of countryside travelling north to Annagry.

Led by the local Dungloe fire fighters, they were joined by crews and appliances from Gaoth Dobhair, Falcarragh, Letterkenny, Buncrana, Glencolmcille, Glenties, Donegal town and Ballyshannon.

Garry Martin, director of emergency services for Donegal County Council, said the combined efforts of the fire services, the Rescue 118 helicopter and fantastic support from the local community ensured that the wild fires were eventually brought under control.

"It was a very difficult operation, the area runs 'as the crow flies' for four miles or more in any direction and the terrain is very difficult, a mixture of smaller roads, small groups of three or four houses, holiday homes and more were all under threat," he said.

The fires, he said, started in the Kerrytown area circa 11am Friday and the first fire crews were stood down between 7 and 8pm Friday, but three crews were left to deal with flare ups as darkness fell. "I'm aware that crews were fighting a flare up near Annagry village up to 11pm last night," he said.

Mr Martin said that a change in weather conditions overnight, with small amounts of rain and generally cooler temperatures were a welcome help in ensuring the fires didn't start up again.

He was very keen to thank the local communities in the area for their help: "The local communities were critical in assisting the fire service, local people came out in huge numbers to defend the area, they turned shovels into beaters and fought long and hard to stop the flames, it was a magnificent effort by them. I watched as one local man dug a fire break while I met one man twice several hours apart who was ferrying water with his own slurry tanker to a trouble spot. 

"I also want to thank the fire fighters and the emergency service personnel for their very professional approach and I want to pay particular thanks to the Rescue 118 helicopter who assisted us. Their support from the air allowed us assess the extent and pattern of the fires and that was vital."

Local councillor Micheal Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, who is from the area and spent the day fighting fires with neighbours and locals, was generous in his praise of the fire fighters but he paid particular thanks to the many local people who came out in big numbers to fight the fires. "Without the local on the ground this fire would not have been stopped," he said.

*All pictures here from Micheal Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig Facebook page.