Tuesday 21 November 2017

Council warning after further fires

Paul Deering

As investigations get underway into the cause of gorse and forest fires in county over the past week, Sligo County Council has issued a warning that so called 'controlled burning' is strictly prohibited.

Thousands of acres of forestry have been damaged in fires at Easkey, Geevagh and Slish Wood since last Wednesday, stretching fire crews to the limit. All of the fires were brought under control over the week-end but the Council is warning against 'controlled burning' during the the current warm spell.

Consultation with Coillte has taken place over the week-end and a call has been made to members of the public to act responsible when visiting forests.

"Although we do not know the actual cause of the fire, a carelessly discarded cigarette or other ignition source can, in conditions we are currently experiencing can quickly escalate as this devastating fire in an outstanding area of natural beauty demonstrates. The period of good weather is set to continue and this requires all of us to be mindful of our actions," said a spokesperson for Sligo Fire Service.

It was just as the fires at Killery, ballintogher and Slish wood were got under control that news came of further blazes in the Easkey and Geevagh areas. Sligo fire personnel were at the scene in Geevagh until 11pm on Friday and the gorse fire was contained.

Units from Sligo, Tubbercury and Ballina also had to attend a forest fire in Easkey and a 'controlled burn' was undertaken to stop the spread of the fire. After working through Saturday night at the forest fire it was successfully contained.

"The biggest challenge faced by the fire crews was gaining access to the fire, with an area of particular concern deep in the forestry between Lough Easkey and Lough Talt, a great distance from any road.

"An Air Corps helicopter was at the scene from 3pm to 8pm Saturday fighting the fire with over 1,000 litre capacity 'Bambi' buckets. On Saturday the helicopter continuously dropped buckets of water. Some 37 drops of 1,300 litres of water were carried out, totalling at 48,100 litres.

"The wind eased and the fire was confined to isolated pockets," said the spokesperson. Coillte also arranged for a contract helicopter from Scotland to attend at the scene to deal with these pockets.

Sligo Champion

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