Farm Ireland

Monday 25 March 2019

Gorse fires in February are started by humans, not climate change- Coillte Risk manager

Gorse fire in the Dublin Mountains last night.
Gorse fire in the Dublin Mountains last night.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Humans start gorse fires in February, not climate change, Coillte Risk Manager Mick Power has said.

Dublin fire brigade attended to a major gorse fire in the Dublin Mountains last night, with two fire engines attending the scene but no injuries were reported.

Coillte Risk Manager Mick Power told FarmIreland while gorse fires are more common during the months of March-May, he said when vegetation is dry they can happen at any time and are almost always caused by humans in Ireland, except during exceptional circumstances.

“These fires can happen at any time, yes this is earlier than normal but if vegetation is dead and dry there will always be fires going on. There’s no point thinking this was because of the temperatures, we don’t get high enough temperatures in Ireland for fires to start of their own accord, they need to be ignited an in the main they are started by humans,” he said.

“Last summer in June and July we had some fires because of the extreme heat but in the main they were caused by camp fires started by people.”

Mr Power added that farmers this time of year carry out what is supposed to be controlled burning in the hills in order to stem the growth of bracken and heather to make the land ready for agricultural use.

“It’s not unusual for land to be burnt at this time of year. Farmers need to be careful and assess the area they are burning. They should notify the fire brigade, Coillte and landowners nearby before they do the burning, so they’ll be able to react in time if there are any issues,” he said.

“That hours notice that burning is taking place can make a huge difference. All it is, is one phone call, even if there is a bad fire nobody is held to account.”

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Sheep farmer Donie Anderson who lives in the Glenasmole area of Dublin Mountains said that he is aware of a landowner who lost forestry as a result of the fire last night.

“It is unusual to see a fire at this time of year. I saw the fire myself last night taking off across the sky. It was so big. I know of one guy with forestry who has losses because of it and you’d worry about the wildlife too.”

Project Manager of the SUAS Commonage programme in the Wicklow Mountains, Declan Byrne explained that its group of farmers are planning carrying out controlled burning in the area tomorrow (Wednesday) but have put all the necessary checks and notifications in place.

“That fire in Dublin probably wasn’t planned by the looks of it. Burning is important and has to be done. We’ve all the fire break measures done and sent a plan of it to Coillte, so all going well it should be fine.”

A National Fire Safety Day will be taking place in Avondale, Co Wicklow whcih will bring key stakeholders such as Coillte, The Department of Agriculture and Teagasc together to address issues on fire safety.

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