Sunday 21 January 2018

Almost 20 gorse fires in last week

Gorse fires on the Sugarloaf, close to the Long Hill between Kilmacanogue and Roundwood early on Saturday morning
Gorse fires on the Sugarloaf, close to the Long Hill between Kilmacanogue and Roundwood early on Saturday morning

Deborah Coleman

Fire crews across the county have attended 19 separate gorse fires during the past week and there are fears that many of them may have been started maliciously.

Seven of these fires started in and around Wicklow town and bring to 49 the number of fires recorded in the past month alone.

The most recent incidents were recorded mainly from the Seacrest area and down to Ashtown Lane.

Other gorse fires took place in Glencree, Newcastle, Hollywood, Callowhill Upper, Ballyknockan, Kippure, Seabourne View, Greystones, the Sugarloaf mountain at Killough and Ballycullen, Ashford.

County Wicklow Fire Chief Aidan Dempsey has asked the public to be vigilant for anyone starting fires deliberately in the countryside.

'Wicklow County Fire Service is advising the public to be extra careful while out enjoying the countryside and be vigilant for anyone starting fires deliberately. Fires can start easily and spread quickly causing wide-spread damage to the natural and build environment as well as local wildlife,' he said.

He also warned of the risks to fire crews, members of the public and property.

'Tackling wild fires means deploying firefighters and their equipment to the scene, often for prolonged periods of time, working under hazardous and very difficult conditions, to bring fires under control. A change in wind direction can cause the fire to spread rapidly, putting firefighters at risk as well as nearby people and property.'

Mr Dempsey urged the public to contact the gardaí if they see any suspicious behaviour and outlined a number of preventative measures that members of the public can take.

'While many fires are clearly started deliberately - and we would ask the public to report any suspicious behaviour to the gardaí immediately - there are a number of measures to take that will help prevent others being caused by accident.'

These include: 'extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly; never throw cigarette ends out of car windows; only use barbecues in designated and safe areas and never leave them unattended; keep children and ball games away from barbecues; ensure that barbecues are fully extinguished and cold before disposal; avoid using open fires in the countryside; and do not leave bottles or glass in woodlands. Sunlight shining through glass can start a fire. Take them home or put them in a waste or recycling bin.

'If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately. Don't attempt to tackle fires that cannot be put out with no more than a bucket of water. Leave the area as soon as possible,' Mr Dempsey added.

Wicklow People

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