Army, air corps scrambled as massive gorse fire rages in Donegal

Gorse Fires start again around the Mountains in the Loch an Iir area of Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Gorse Fires start again around the Mountains in the Loch an Iir area of Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Gorse fires continue to rage in west Donegal

Stephen Maguire and Allison Bray

A major gorse fire is threatening to engulf homes in the north west of the country.

The Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, has scrambled Aer Corps helicopters and army personnel to the scene of the serious gorse fire in West Donegal.

The huge fire, in the Annagry and Loughanure areas, is out of control and in danger of coming into contact with homes.

At least eight sections of Donegal Fire Service have been battling the blaze for the past five hours.

They have been supported on the ground by scores of local volunteers who are putting their own safety at some risk in an attempt to beat out the flames.

"There are fires everywhere," Donegal county councillor Michael Choim Mac Giolla Easbuig told Independent.ie this afternoon.

TWO houses where destroyed in a massive gorse fire in Co Donegal on Friday.
The fires started again on Monday and are spreading in the Annnagry direction, with a number of roads closed.Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
TWO houses where destroyed in a massive gorse fire in Co Donegal on Friday. The fires started again on Monday and are spreading in the Annnagry direction, with a number of roads closed.Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

"There are hundreds of people on site," he said of local volunteers trying to battle the blaze.

"It's unbelievable. There's property being damaged. We're talking about a vast area."

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While the local Glenties councillor couldn't say if any homes have been destroyed, he said at least no one has been injured so far.

But he described the situation as very fluid and very harrowing.

Local TD and Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat the Cope Gallagher called on the Minister for Defence to mobile the Aer Corps and soldiers in a bid to halt the spread of the fires.

He has criticised how long it has taken the Minister to make a decision on the matter.

"The Minister has just called me to confirm the approval has been given for  a helicopter to travel to Annagry and that army personnel are also being sent to assist Donegal

"Myself and Donegal County Council requested the Minister to send up the Aer Corps four hours ago and they have only mobilised them a short time ago and I am very disappointed that it took so long.

"We cannot delay this any longer as these fires are out of control. We must stop this fire as it spreads towards homes," he said.

There is still no indication as to how the latest fires started.

Donegal County Council also made a decision to employ a private company to bring in a helicopter to spread water over the flames.

The water for the choppers is to be taken from nearby lakes and then spread over the most dangerous areas.

It comes just days after two homes were destroyed in Annagry.

More to follow

Online Editors