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Sunday 23 September 2018

Gardai treating major fire at Limerick farm as 'malicious'

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Reporter

Gardai are treating a hay barn fire in Cappamore, Co Limerick on Saturday night as “malicious”.

The barn, a lean-to and 70 round bales of hay located at Turagh, Cappamore – on the edge of the village – were destroyed.

It is an outside farm belonging to popular Cappamore dairy farmer and Limerick IFA rural development officer, Roger Keogh.

Roger had recently bought the hay which cost around €3,000. With the fodder shortage ongoing it is crucial to his operation. The gutted barn and lean-to cost over €40,000.

Limerick Fire and Rescue Service received the call at 10.49pm on Saturday night. One water tender and two water tankers quickly responded from Cappamore and the city. They fought the blaze until after 2am. Gardai from the Bruff district were also called. 

A garda spokesperson said: “It appears that it was deliberately set on fire. Gardai remained at the scene overnight to preserve the scene until forensic examiners came from Henry Street at around 7.30am on Sunday morning. It is being looked at as if it was a malicious act.”

The first thing that every farmer in east Limerick will worry about is if it is connected to the spate of hay barn fires in 2015. 

The armed regional response unit were deployed by then chief superintendent, David Sheahan to allay fears amongst the agricultural community.

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Gardai stress there is no connection between the hay barn fire on Saturday night and the ones in 2015.

The fire would have been bigger only for the actions of local man Mikey Cleary who saw the smoke.

He jumped in his tractor, went to the yard and proceeded to pull bales of hay out into the field.

They cannot be fed to cattle due to smoke damage but it did mean the blaze could be contained faster by the fire service.

Roger wished to thank Mikey for his bravery.

“I’d also like to thank the people in the village and in the community since the fire. They have been very sympathetic to me. I’d like to thank everyone for their support and help,” said Roger, who also praised the fire service in Cappamore and city for their fast response and for preventing even more damage to his property.

“There is a slatted shed adjoining the hay barn. If the fire had spread to that it would have taken the roof off it,” said Roger. 

Cllr Noel Gleeson said he was “very disappointed” when he heard that the hay was deliberately set on fire.

Cllr Gleeson said it would be a massive blow in any year but especially this year when fodder is so scarce and expensive.

He encouraged anyone who has information to go to the gardai.

Bruff gardai are appealing for anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the Turagh area of Cappamore on Saturday evening to contact them on 061 382940. 

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