Wednesday 18 September 2019

Soaring temperatures bring risk of wildfires as mercury hits scorching 28C

Eleanor Fox, Dublin pictured with Miranda Fu, Drimnagh and Amy McDonnell, Glasnevin as they enjoy the sun at Sandycove, Co Dublin.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 27/6/19
Eleanor Fox, Dublin pictured with Miranda Fu, Drimnagh and Amy McDonnell, Glasnevin as they enjoy the sun at Sandycove, Co Dublin.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 27/6/19

Allison Bray and Ian Begley

Wildlife officials are urging the public to be vigilant against the spread of potentially deadly wildfires due to tinder dry conditions.

As the mercury climbed to a sizzling 28C at the Met Eireann weather station in Valentia, Co Kerry today, The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) issued a warning to the public of the high risk of wildfires breaking out during the current hot spell.

As a Status Yellow high temperature warning for six counties in the south and west expired at 7pm, the risk of fires starting remains a serious concern nationwide due to the hot and dry conditions this week.

Dr Barry O’Donoghue of the NPWS said: “Fires do not just happen in Ireland; they are caused deliberately or inadvertently go out of control. This is a particular risk during hot and dry periods of weather like we are currently experiencing.”

Aside from the potentially devastating impact of fires on public and private property and forests, they can have “devastating impacts on habitats and species and ecosystems that may have taken decades or centuries to establish, but can be lost in minutes in a fire," he said.

He also urged anyone who sees a fire burning to report it immediately.

The spate of hot weather - which is set to continue tomorrow - drew thousands of sun-worshippers to beaches and parks across the country as they enjoyed a rare spell of wall to wall sunshine.

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Emma O'Brien (3) from Killiney cools down with an ice cream at Sandycove Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 27/6/19

Dublin’s Forty Foot was teeming with people of all ages who flocked to the popular destination as soon as Dun Laoghaire County Council lifted its swim ban following a sewage overspill. 

Bathing restrictions for three Dublin beaches have now been lifted, but the ban remains in place at Sandycove Beach, pending further test results expected tomorrow.

Dublin City Council also confirmed that the ban has also been lifted at Dollymount Strand.

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Michael Reynolds from Drimnagh pictured at the Forty Foot, Co Dublin.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 27/6/19

For Co Kildare local Shauna O’Doherty, her visit to the Forty Foot was a very special occasion as it was her baby daughter’s first time in the sea. 

One-year-old Kate was laughing with joy as the gentle tide splashed her and welled up with tears when her mother tried to lift her out. 

“I thought it might be a bit cold for her, but she’s absolutely delighted with herself,” Ms O’Doherty said. 

“We only heard about the swim ban as we arrived, but I’m so thankful it’s been lifted.”

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Kate O'Doherty (1) from Kildare enjoys her first experience of the sea at Sandycove, Co Dublin Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 27/6/19

As the good spell of weather continues however, officials at the Marie Keating Foundation warned that the risk of over exposure to the sun can not only lead to premature aging and other forms of sun damage to the skin, but skin cancer.

“As a nation we love to get out when the sun shines, but it is important that we look after our skin and follow the SunSmart code. These are easy steps anyone can take to help protect their skin from sun damage and ensure we enjoy the sun safely,” said Liz Yeates the cancer charity’s CEO and skin cancer survivor.

The code includes always wearing high factor sunscreen of 30 or more, as well as protective clothing, hats and sunglasses and avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm when the potential for burning is at its peak.

The solar ultraviolet or UV index remains very high today which can lead to sunburn and sun damage to skin in a short time.

Met Eireann also tweeted last night that the risk for sunburn and hayfever remains very high due to the current conditions.

Meanwhile, the mini heatwave is set to continue tomorrow with good sunny spells nationwide and highs of between 21C and 26C with cooler temperatures along the south coasts due to onshore breezes.

Tomorrow will remain warm with sunny spells and highs of between 20C and 25C however scattered showers, some possibly heavy, are likely especially along some eastern coastal counties, according to Met Éireann.

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