Massive gorse fire was 'started deliberately'
Homes threatened in fight to halt blaze
A FIRE which destroyed a large country area of gorse is believed to have been started intentionally.
The emergency services in Kerry have now appealed for members of the local community to be on the alert for people who are starting the blazes deliberately, which can spread rapidly in dry spells.
Firefighters launched an urgent battle to stop a gorse fire which came within feet of a major forest in the Killarney national park on Monday night.
It took nine fire engines, water tanks and other vehicles to contain the blaze at the foot of Mangerton Mountain.
The effects of the gorse blaze could be seen from miles around while emergency services tried to tackle it.
It took the tenders of five separate towns to temper what was described as "a very serious incident" by one official.
Flames crept just a short distance from a number of homes at one point. And as it progressed, a number of emergency engines were used to line the road to create a firebreak as the wild blaze, fanned by a breeze, reached within six feet of a major forest in the national park. Support had to be radioed in from Mallow, Co Cork.
Gardai lined up around the area as locals were moved out of the vicinity of the burning gorse.
Council officials believe the fire was deliberately started alongside others in the wider Killarney area on Monday night.
The cost of the operation to extinguish the blaze will amount to thousands of euro, according to the local authority.
"If there was another call-out in the Killarney area, then the fire service would not have been able to get there quickly," a spokesman said.
The fire also caused the widespread destruction of young deer and nesting birds.