Claim of seven-hour delay in mobilising Aer Corp helicopters to fight the Donegal gorse fires
Calls have been made for a full written report a claim of a seven-hour delay in mobilising the Aer Corp helicopters to fight the West Donegal gorse fires.
Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal and Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat the Cope Gallagher said the delay in mobilising the helicopter certainly left the entire situation very dangerous, and potentially threatening to numerous properties and indeed life in the areas of the fires.
“The efforts of Donegal Fire Service have to be publicly acknowledged along with the massive number of local volunteers who fought the fire for hours, and the numerous farmers who provided slurry tanks for quenching the fires. A private helicopter was also on site from earlier in the afternoon which was arranged by Donegal County Council.
"When the Aer Corp helicopter did arrive, it played a significant role in controlling the fire. But, the issue here is why it took a full 7 hours to get the helicopter cover, which was so badly needed earlier in order to control this raging inferno that threatened property and life in West Donegal.
“The initial alarm and emergency call for Aer Corp assistance was made by Donegal County Council at 9.30 am, that was followed shortly afterwards by myself contacting the Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe.
“What is devastating for all of us involved in this sequence of events is that it took 7 hours to get the helicopter on site.
"Critical and crucial time was lost whereby the fire could have been better managed had the numerous firefighters and local volunteers got the Aer Corp support," he claimed.
Firefighters and locals in Co Donegal fear further dry weather will spark more gorse fires which scorched hundreds of acres of land and threatened local homes and a hotel.