Thursday 17 January 2019

Public urged to stop using drones as they're preventing emergency services from tackling raging wildfires on Bray Head

Air Corps Helicopter drops sea water on to a gorse fire on Bray head this evening after people flying drones had halted their efforts
Air Corps Helicopter drops sea water on to a gorse fire on Bray head this evening after people flying drones had halted their efforts
Bray gorse fire: Wicklow Fire Service

David Fleming

The Irish Air Corps has urged drone pilots to stop flying their machines above Bray Head as it was forced to suspend firefighting operations in the area due to their presence.

A wildfire has been raging in the area since around 1am this morning. The blaze has so far resulted in a number of homes being evacuated as well as causing the suspension of the DART service between Bray and Greystones.

The Irish Air Corp and the gardai have both urged drone pilots to cease flying their machines in the area. 

"Aerial Firefighting operations at Bray Head have been STOOD DOWN due to drone activity in the area! Wildfires are currently spreading across Bray head, please refrain from using drones in the area to allow us to combat the wildfire," the Air Corps tweeted. 

Bray gorse fire: Wicklow Fire Service
Bray gorse fire: Wicklow Fire Service

The gardai tweeted a similar message of warning. 

They advised: "We are asking that anyone in the Bray Head area who is using a drone to please stop doing so. 

"There is a gorse fire in the area and emergency helicopters cannot safely assist in until all drones are out of the air space."

The fire, which is believed to have been started by campers, caused damage to cabling on the line which is currently being repaired by Iarnród Éireann. 

“The alarm was raised at 1am last night and when we arrived there was no one to be seen,” said Aidan Dempsey, Chief Fire Officer.

“Markings on the ground indicated that the source of the fire came from the campers,” he added.

The fire is now under control but is continuing to create an extensive smoke plume over Bray seafront. 

There has been an increase that has never been experienced before in these types of fires as a result of the dry and hot weather conditions, according Mr Dempsey. 

There has also been a “large number of fires caused from cigarette butts” being flicked into grass and woodlands sparking fires.

“We are advising people not to have barbeques outdoors, no campfires and to fully extinguish their cigarettes,” he said.

Gorse fires across the country have put fire services under pressure with areas of Wicklow, Laois and Louth some of the worst affected.

A source from Dublin Fire Brigade said it currently has three units battling gorse fires in Bray Head and has not received any orders to stop operations. 

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