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Aerial footage shows devastation caused by Wexford beach fire

Aerial footage has emerged showing the extensive damage caused by a fire that broke out at Curracloe beach in Co. Wexford yesterday.

The footage, sent to Independent.ie by Jack Meehan, shows large swathes of land around the beach burnt black by the fire.

The alarm was raised about the blaze in the sand dunes shortly after 11.30am yesterday morning, and hundreds of holidaymakers were told to evacuate the popular beach. Traffic was diverted and people were urged to avoid the area while the emergency services tackled the blaze.

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe visited the beach in the aftermath of the fire, and said that it may have been caused by a barbecue.

“I was at the scene between 5pm and 9pm this evening, Wexford fire crew had been called to the area initially and then they called for backup from other fire stations, gardai and the air corps were also there and they managed to get it under control.

"I heard that it may have caused by a barbecue, if this is true I hope gardai do investigate as that is just completely irresponsible.

"The sand dunes are popular with people who are camping and there is some suggestion that there may have been a party and someone was using a barbecue.

"This is so dangerous and we have been warned so much over the past few weeks about the risk of fire - we haven't had any rain in the south-east in eight weeks so the land was dry as a bone and as we saw today the fire spread rapidly.”

He also said that the fire could have ended in a “tragedy,” and is relieved that there were no casualties.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Curracloe beach was a filming location for the award-winning movie Saving Private Ryan and it was remarked that the beach  looked similar to it’s depiction in the movie after the blaze.

"It looks like a scene from Saving Private Ryan,” said Jack-Tim Murphy, owner of the Surf Shack in Curracloe. Speaking on Beat 102-103, he said, “ It looks like a scene from a war movie down here, it’s just smoke and you can't see 20 feet in front of you, it's just smoke covering the beach and all the buildings.”

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Saving Private Ryan was filmed in June 1997. Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and a host of other actors and crew, arrived to film scenes for the Hollywood war epic.

The filming lasted two months, with the Irish Defence Forces supplying 2,500 men to act as extras.

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