Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

Gardai confirm investigation into gorse fire which destroyed family home

The thatch of this house caught fire and burnt down in Kiltimagh, Mayo.
The thatch of this house caught fire and burnt down in Kiltimagh, Mayo.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Gardai have confirmed that an investigation is ongoing into a gorse fire which saw a family of five lose their home after it was burnt when the roof caught fire from embers carried on the wind.

The house outside Kiltimagh caught fire on May 7, when embers from a gorse fire were caught in the wind and landed in the thatch roof of the Brennan family home.

Despite several units of the fire brigade attending the blaze, the fire spiralled out of control.

Bernice Brennan, whose family own and live in the house, told RTE Radio 1 that the wind was changing direction and the course of the fire was altering. She said that she saw a bit of a fire some distance from the house, but then 'trees exploded into flames" and some of the embers lodged in their roof.

Read also: Pictures: Family home destroyed after trees 'exploded into flames' from gorse fire

The family had a first holy communion on Saturday morning and the local community is rallying around to support them.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has also confirmed Garda inquiries are ongoing in respect of a number of other ‘high-profile’ cases in which extraordinary damage was done to property, homes, flora and fauna.

“I hope those inquiries can be concluded. Anyone who breaks the law should face the full rigours of the law,” he said.

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However, he also commented that “anyone who is an accidental victim of such illegality should not face sanction in my Department”.

Read also: Did fear over forestry lead activists to start wildfires?

Department of Agriculture officials used the Nasa satellite images to monitor the fires and detect locations under threat.

EU Copernicus satellite data was used to detect illegal fires in 17 counties in recent weeks.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said satellites had detected more than 50 illegal fire sites before April 21.

Farm leaders are warning that gorse fires will remain an annual threat until the Government overhauls its policy on commonage.

Issues such as the abandonment of commonage land, the restricted controlled burning season on commonages, and lack of fire training for farmers have been identified by farming experts as the primary reasons for the escalation in blazes that have destroyed thousands of hectares of land and forestry nationwide.

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