Farm catastrophe avoided as neighbours put out blaze

Tackling the fire in Mayglass.
Tackling the fire in Mayglass.

Anna Hayes

A farmer in the Mayglass area is appealing to people to be careful with fire and dried foliage following what could have been a catastrophic incident on the railway line just a few yards from his land.

Anthony Browne, who has farm land and forestry along the disused railway line between Mayglass and Bridgetown, found himself playing fireman on Thursday morning last when his neighbour called him seeking help to extinguish a fire just alongside the track.

'My neighbour was out checking fields when he spotted the smoke and found the fire on the train tracks. He tried to put it out himself with water but wasn't able to so he rang around to the neighbours and got hold of me. Together we managed to put out the fire.'

Anthony believes that a disaster had been averted, pointing out that only for his neighbour had spotted the smoke, and the weather had been particularly mild with no wind, they could have been looking at serious damage to the area.

He remarked: 'There's about four or five houses in the immediate area, and quite a few farms. Between farm and forestry, you'd probably be looking at about 500 acres that, I think, if the fire had spread would have been destroyed. If it had ran, who knows where it would have stopped? You have the school in Mayglass, a lot of houses in Bridgetown and a lot of land and houses between here and there. I don't think anyone would have been able to get it under control.'

He said it was not the first time bonfires had been lit along the train tracks but believed that those lighting them meant no harm.

'We were all young once and I have kids of my own. I'm not trying to be a kill-joy but I'd plead with people to be more careful in future. Everything is so dry at the moment that even the slightest spark could do serious damage. People need to be mindful of the conditions we have and have a bit of respect for our countryside.'

On Thursday night, Anthony brought his dog for a walk along the train track, partly to keep an eye out for any further danger. He said that the track was well used by walkers and it struck him how suitable it would be for a greenway in the future.

Local councillor Frank Staples similarly appealed to people to avoid lighting fires in areas of such dry vegetation, pointing out that a number of farmers could have had land and forestry wiped out.

'It was lucky that someone spotted it or it could have done incredibly serious damage to the area.'

Wexford People