Authorities use satellite data to detect illegal fires in 17 counties
Gorse fires that wreaked havoc in the west of Ireland last week were so vast they could be seen from space.
Nasa satellites captured pictures of the west coast while the fires raged.
They show plumes of smoke billowing from the Cloosh Valley in Connemara where millions of euro worth of damage was caused to forests and bogs.
The fires raged for five days and covered an area five times the size of Dublin's Phoenix Park, before they were brought under control by fire crews aided by improving weather conditions and Air Corps helicopters dumping thousands of litres of water.
Department of Agriculture officials used the Nasa satellite images to monitor the fires and detect locations under threat.
EU Copernicus satellite data was also used to detect illegal fires in 17 counties in the past seven days.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said satellites had detected more than 50 illegal fire sites before April 21.
However, the number of fires has escalated since then as farmers look to burn off gorse and waste while the ground continues to dry out.