‘Tinderbox’ conditions cause forest fires across country

‘Tinderbox’ conditions cause forest fires across country

11 April 2015

published by http://insideireland.ie

Ireland — Fire Services have tacked forest blazes across the country this week, with The Fire Service saying the warm, dry weather over Easter week, combined with easterly winds has created “tinderbox” conditions across County Clare.

Air Corps assisting with fire fighting in Killarney National Park

The Irish air corps AW139 helicopter dangling a thousand litre ‘bambi’ bucket was asked to fly over Killarney National Park, Co Kerry where a blaze broke out several days ago. The fire had spread over several kilometres due to the dry conditions.

The Air Corps regularly provide assistance to local authorities, most recently when they dropped agricultural feed in rural parts of Ulster and North Leinster during severe frost in the Winter of 2013 and when they dropped 50,000 litres of water on forest fires in Donegal in May 2011.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht advised members of the public to stay away from the Old Kenmare Road area of Killarney National Park, between Kenmare and Killarney.

The fire was finally brought under control at around 6am on 11th April.

It is understood that Gardaí are investigating the cause of the fire.

Co Clare

Clare County Fire and Rescue Service has advised landowners to stop any burning due to a heightened risk of gorse, forest and bog fires.

The Fire Service said the warm, dry weather over Easter week, combined with easterly winds has created “tinderbox” conditions across County Clare.

Firefighters from Ennis, Kilrush and Ennistymon responded to one of the largest wildfires of the year to date on 8th April when two square kilometres of bog and gorse were scorched on Ben Dash, between Lissycasey and Kilmaley.

According to Clare County Council, Fire engines were in attendance for nearly 11 hours at fires in the area.

Risk ‘high’

With forecasts suggesting a return to drier conditions early next week following some light rain this weekend, the Fire Service says the risk posed by uncontrolled burning remains high.

Denis O’Connell, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer said that there has been significant damage to forestry and land as a result of recent blazes.

“The highest risk period for quickly spreading fires occurs between March and June, when ground vegetation is dead and dry following the winter period. Fires have spread quickly this week due to the dry vegetation, low humidity and easterly winds which feed the fires.”

-Denis O’Connell, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer

It is an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn growing vegetation between 1 March and 31 August in any year, on any land not then cultivated.

Details of the laws in relation to burning, and additional guidance are available on the Council website, www.clarecoco.ie.

The advice includes:

– Landowners burning gorse, scrub, or vegetation must inform the Fire Service at least one day in advance on 999 or 112 providing details of the location, time and duration of burning.

– In addition, landowners burning within 1 mile of woodland must notify the local Garda Station and woodland owner in writing at least 7 days in advance.

– Where burning is to take place within a Special Area of Conservation or Natural Heritage Area, written consent must be sought in advance from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

– It is illegal to burn household or commercial/industrial waste, household green waste (e.g. hedging), electric cables for the recovery of copper, or to burn waste in bonfires.

40 fires in Counties Tyrone and Derry

The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service reported 40 gorse fires in Counties Tyrone and Derry on 10th April.

The Service said that while some blazes on Friday were accidental, others were started deliberately.

The NIFRS had warned of the serious consequences of gorse fires, especially after the recent spell of good weather.

Firefighters said they tackled a number of wildland fires across Northern Ireland in the past weeks, including a gorse fire near Carrickmore, Co Tyrone and another one in the Creggan area, near Omagh, on Thursday 9th April.

Group Commander Barry McDowell, who is based at Western Area Headquarters, has appealed to the public to be vigilant during the drier weather.

“They can help protect the countryside from fire this spring and summer.

“Be extra careful while out enjoying the countryside and be vigilant for anyone starting fires deliberately. Fires can start easily and spread quickly causing wide-spread damage to the natural and build environment as well as local wildlife”.

Mr McDowell advised that a change in wind direction can cause the fire to spread rapidly, ‘putting firefighters at risk as well as nearby people and property’.

“While many fires are clearly started deliberately – and we would ask the public to report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately – there are a number of measures to take that will help prevent others being caused by accident”.

NIFRS recommend the following fire safety advice:

• Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly;
• Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows;
• Only use barbecues in designated and safe areas and never leave them unattended. Keep children and ball games away from barbecues;
• Ensure that barbecues are fully extinguished and cold before disposal;
• Avoid using open fires in the countryside;
• Do not leave bottles or glass in woodlands. Sunlight shining through glass can start a fire. Take them home or put them in a waste or recycling bin;
• If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately. Don’t attempt to tackle fires that cannot be put out with no more than a bucket of water. Leave the area as soon as possible.

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