Firefighters declare no-go zone as big blaze takes a dangerous grip of forest and gorse

22

Members of the public trying to take pictures of damage caused by a large fire on the Cooley Peninsula had to be turned back after a wooded area was described as a “no-go” zone.

ver the weekend, gorse fires raged across separate areas in Co Louth with investigations now under way to establish what caused the blazes.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Louth Colm Lambe said the Jenkinstown wood area on the Cooley Peninsula was a no-go area.

“It is absolutely horrendous conditions and for any lay person coming down here, it is an absolute ‘no no’.”

He estimated some 30 acres of mainly harvest land were affected by the fire. The alarm was sounded around 4.30pm on Sunday and by night crews from four of the five stations in Louth were battling it.

Two houses were evacuated for a time but no injuries have been reported either to the public or frontline services.

Close

A helicopter sprays water on to a bog fire near Clonagh, Co Kildare. Photo: Frank McGrath

A helicopter sprays water on to a bog fire near Clonagh, Co Kildare. Photo: Frank McGrath

A helicopter sprays water on to a bog fire near Clonagh, Co Kildare. Photo: Frank McGrath

A helicopter sprays water on to a bog fire near Clonagh, Co Kildare. Photo: Frank McGrath

Mr Lambe said yesterday that at the moment “it has not travelled much into the forest, it is more harvest land and we are looking at up on 30 acres that has been affected”.

He confirmed the Louth Fire and Rescue Service was also dealing with a separate fire close to Carrickarnon and “again there is a lot of gorse involved. We are looking at 10-15 acres but it is spreading”.

He said the wind was a big factor.

The fire service had assistance from Coillte, whose helicopter had been making water drops at both locations.

A spokesperson for Coillte said: “Coillte was made aware of the fire on Sunday evening and started measures immediately to contain it.

“Coillte personnel working overnight and the helicopter have contained the fire but a large area of the forest has been damaged. Coillte deployed staff on the ground with dedicated fire-fighting equipment, including a fire-fighting helicopter.

“Due to the current conditions of extremely dry vegetation, strong winds and lack of rain, the fire escalated quickly but has since been contained.

“It is too early to confirm the source of the ignition but it appears that the fire may have arisen from a camp fire in the woods and Coillte are working with gardaí to investigate the source.”

The spokesperson said there was a status red warning in place for forest fires this weekend, which is the highest level possible.

They said Coillte was currently attending other forest fires in counties Laois, Leitrim, Kildare and Sligo.

Threat

“Even small fires can get out of control very quickly and pose a significant threat to health and safety and the fire-fighting personnel,” they said.

“Forest fires cause extreme damage to wildlife and nature and can cost thousands of euro in damage. Coillte asks the public not to light any fires in the outdoors this weekend and to report any forest fires immediately to the emergency services.”

On Friday, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine issued a red forest fire danger warning for the weekend meaning there was an extreme fire risk.

The warning was effective from Friday until midday yesterday with the status since reduced to orange.

Earlier last week, members of the Dublin Fire Brigade from North Strand were called out to extinguish a woodland fire in Sutton as a result of a camp fire.

The same crew was later involved in the rescue of two people from the sea in Clontarf.

Irish Independent

Source: Irish News