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Independent.ie

Saturday 16 December 2017

Public told to stay away from massive Galway forest fire

John Fallon

Members of the public have been asked to stay away from a massive forest fire which is raging out of control in Co Galway.

Over a quarter of the 4,000 hectare Coillte forest outside Oughterard has been destroyed as the fire continues to spread, fanned by fresh winds on scorching hot day in the west.

The fire is confined to hillside and is not threatening any dwellings at this stage but with smoke to be seen from miles away, there are fears that people driving to see the fire could be injured.

The dense smoke from the fire has made some of the narrow mountain roads impassable but this has not discouraged sight-seers from trying to get close.

Local councillor Tom Welby urged members of the public to stay well away from the Cloosh Valley and allow fire crews and other emergency workers tackle the blaze.

“It is a very dangerous fire, it can spread quickly and the last thing that’s needed at this stage is for someone to get injured or lose their life.

A wild fire in Co. Cork recently. Picture: John Delea.
A wild fire in Co. Cork recently. Picture: John Delea.

“People have been asked to stay away and not get in the way of the people who are trying to deal with the blaze. People going up to try have a look at the fire could jeopardise those professional people who know what they are going,” said Cllr. Welby.

At one point there were three separate fires blazing but two of them have been brought under control.

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Two Aer Corps helicopters have joined a Coillte aircraft in tackling the blaze, with 1,200 litres of water being dropped from the air every few minutes.

But the dry, warm, weather and fresh breezes have made the task extremely difficult for the fire-fighters, with millions of forestry already destroyed.

The location of the fire is a sparsely populated area of Connemara but householders in outlining areas are being kept informed.

Overnight fire breaks were put in place at the site where Galway Wind Park is being developed after one of the blazes came close to a turbine.

Online Editors