Ireland — The Mayo Fire Service and volunteers were still battling a bog fire at the townland of Ross on the Castlebar to Pontoon Road at 6pm this evening. The blaze was first noticed this morning at around 8am, Bernard Pidgeon of Claremorris Fire Station told The Mayo News at the scene. He received a call at around 11.30am, and has been at the bog in Ross all day.
The Fire Service was called in when the flames moved dangerously close to the rear garden of a residence in the area. Two fire engines were deployed, and a helicopter was also used to fight the fire. The blaze close to the residence has been brought under control, and the house is no longer at risk. Also of concern was a Coilte van that had parked on one of the bog roads. The driver of the van had gone to help fight the fire, but the blaze took an unexpected turn and fast travelled towards the vehicle, threatening to engulf it.
The fire crew, unable to contact the driver, were concerned that the van ‘would blow up’. They managed to put out the fire but just in the nick of time: Part of the car’s bumper was melted by the extreme heat.
Meanwhile, another fire that started last night at Coolturk on the N59 Erris Road, close to Crossmolina, was still burning today. Woodland in the area has been affected. Another fire continues to burn near Charlestown this evening.
Across the border in north Connemara, a large fire caused extensive damage in the Lough Inagh Valley area close to Recess. Gorse and bog fires have also affected Co Donegal and Co Down. While the cause of the fires has yet to be established, the recent spell of warm, sunny weather would have left heather and grass extremely dry. Commenting on the spate of gorse and bog fires throughout the north-west region over the weekend, Mr Pidgeon told The Mayo News that he believed more fires were likely in coming weeks. “This could be just the start of it,” he said. “If the fine weather continues, and if we get a good summer, there could be many more fires like the one here today.” Bog fires are particularly hard to tackle, he explained, as they can continue to smoulder and burn for long periods. If a fire takes hold in a bog, it can burn for months. “When a top layer of grass has been grown over bog, that can catch too. You wouldn’t think green grass can burn, but it can. If there are dry, white patches of grass, that can be enough to get it going. The bog underneath heats up and keeps it going too.”
Fires also raged throughout the county this time last year, with the Mayo Fire Service called out 150 times to fight gorse and bog fires in April 2011 alone.