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Independent.ie

Thursday 22 February 2018

Insurance cover warning over gorse blazes

Line of Fire: Brave fire crews spent almost 24 hours fighting a gorse fire that spread for miles in Killnadeema, Loughrea, Co Galway due to the dry weather. Photo: Hany Marzouk
Line of Fire: Brave fire crews spent almost 24 hours fighting a gorse fire that spread for miles in Killnadeema, Loughrea, Co Galway due to the dry weather. Photo: Hany Marzouk

Ronnie Bellew

Landowners have been warned to check if their insurance policies cover fire brigade call-out costs for gorse fires.

Following a weekend which saw firefighters spend 24 hours battling a gorse fire outside Loughrea, Roy O'Brien, IFA regional officer for Galway/ Mayo, said there were big issues around who pays when a fire brigade unit is called out.

Farmers and landowners could face bills of up to €5,000 if their insurance policies don't cover the costs he warned.

Mr O'Brien said it was "criminal" for a member of the public to deliberately start a blaze on open ground and stressed that farmers needed to get the agreement of all parties before lighting controlled fires on their lands.

It's estimated that 1,200ac were destroyed in the weekend blaze between Loughrea and Derrybrien, which started on Saturday night, before being brought under control on Sunday night. It was one of a number off gorse fires in Galway following a spell of exceptionally dry weather.

The Department of Agriculture last week issued a 'Condition Orange' high fire risk alert which stressed that vegetation in upland areas is currently highly flammable and that "high to extreme fire conditions already exist in many parts of the country".

Last month, Minister of State Tom Hayes warned that setting fire to growing vegetation was not only an extremely dangerous practice but it is also illegal.

"It is completely unacceptable for a person to act so thoughtlessly as to set fire to vegetation and then to simply walk away when the consequences could destroy the very lives and livelihoods of their own neighbours," said Minister Hayes.

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