The forest service has issued a rare Red forest fire warning as high temperatures and dry weather look set to persist into the weekend.
The extreme forest fire risk is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses, heather and gorse exist.
Overall Forest fire risk is likely to be compounded by ignitions risks associated with expected high levels of public activity in fire prone areas during the Bank Holiday Weekend.
Under extreme fire risk conditions any ignition source in upland vegetation will give rise to rapid and unpredictable wildfire development and spread.
Fires can be expected to cover extensive areas and pose extreme difficulties to suppression efforts and may potentially give rise to Major Emergency scenarios. The issue of Condition Red extreme fire risk warnings is a comparatively rare event and implies that recipients should take immediate action to protect resources and property.
Such action may involve the mobilisation, assembly and prepositioning of resources such as water tankers, machinery, personnel and contract aviation support to high risk areas. Preliminary notification of Aid to Civil Power / Aid to Civil Authority requests by relevant authorities may also be warranted.
The Department of Agriculture has advised that all forms of permitted controlled burning immediately cease, and that the outdoor use of fires, barbeques and other open ignition sources be avoided on forest lands and in other high risk areas until further notice.
Further extreme caution is also advised with respect to hay making, the use of machinery and other agricultural activity that may also present a risk of fire in dry vegetation on in current conditions.
Rural residents should also implement a high degree of vigilance, and check on elderly or other vulnerable neighbours and assist with preparation and reassurance, and evacuation if this is deemed necessary by the Emergency services.
Members of the public intending to visit forests and other recreational sites for exercise are reminded of the requirement to remain within 5km of their homes and to adhere to regulations introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Vehicles should be parked considerately near site entrances so as not to impede emergency service access to forest roads.
Forest owners/managers, other land managers, landowners and local authorities should implement fire patrols to exclude all fire activity from the landscape and enforce relevant fire protection legislation.