THE FIRE SERVICES were called upon by the Gardai to put out a bonfire taking place in Wicklow town on Hallowe'en night.
An ambulance also had to be called after a young woman suffered minor burns to her hands.
The bonfire was situated in a green area between Wicklow Heights Court and Halpin Court and had been built up over a period of two weeks. Fencing to protect the area from illegal dumping and fly tipping was also ripped up and thrown on to the blaze.
Cllr. Malcolm Earls has expressed his 'disappointment' with Wicklow County Council's response when he contacted officials about the bonfire a week and a half before Hallowe'en. Local residents had contacted the councillor to raise their concerns over its size and some of the materials being used to construct it.
'I am disappointment because I gave Wicklow County Council a week and a half notice. I was told that the council just didn't have the resources to remove the bonfire. As a result the it just got bigger and bigger. I know some residents saw someone arriving with a wheelie bin and dumping refuge on it before heading off. There was also the roof of a car and a sofa on the bonfire. I know the council put a notification in the paper warning people about bonfires but there's a need for a greater response than that.'
Initially the lighting of the bonfire went peacefully, with families and their children gathered around the fire to watch the blaze together. However, later that night, at around 1 a.m., the bonfire was relit by an older crowd who also proceeded to throw fencing from the area on to the fire.
Gardai were concerned about the possibility of a serious accident, particularly as some of the crowd appeared to be inebriated. The fire services were contacted and they arrived to douse the flames and put the blaze out.
Cllr. Earls believes Wicklow County Council should act sooner next Hallowe'en to tackle any potentially dangerous bonfires in Wicklow town and surrounding areas.
'Maybe the council could react a little quicker next year and take down bonfires like this before they get too big. In Bray they had a heavy goods collection a week before Hallowe'en, so that cut down on the amount of couches and other heavy goods which otherwise could have ended up on bonfires. I think something similar should be organised for Wicklow next year too.'
Cllr. Earls also has sympathy for residents who take it upon themselves to maintain the upkeep of said green area. When contacted a week and a half before Hallowe'en, the council also said they wouldn't be responsible for any clean up required to remove burnt debris left behind from Hallowe'en.