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Orange forest fire warning in place until Monday as warm weather brings 'high fire risk'

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Destruction: Fires in the Wicklow Mountains over the Easter weekend photographed by the Air Corps

Destruction: Fires in the Wicklow Mountains over the Easter weekend photographed by the Air Corps

Destruction: Fires in the Wicklow Mountains over the Easter weekend photographed by the Air Corps

The Department of Agriculture have issued a status orange forest fire warning after deeming current weather conditions likely to bring a "high fire risk".

In a statement, the department said, "pending significant rainfall, this risk condition will remain in place until midday on Monday, April 20, unless otherwise stated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine."

The risk is increased, they said, because of illegal burning taking place.

"Arising from current conditions associated with Atlantic high pressure systems a high fire risk is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels such as heather and gorse exist," they said.

"Based on recent fire incidents, most ignitions risks appear to be associated with illegal burning of upland vegetation, particularly in areas where active turf cutting is taking place.

"Members of the public intending to visit forests and other recreational sites are reminded of the requirement to remain within 2km of their homes and to adhere to Regulations introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19. Vehicles should not be parked at site entrances or impede emergency service access to forest roads.

"Fire behaviour is likely to be influenced by light to moderate wind speeds during the lifespan of this warning."

This comes as Met Éireann announced a "partial drought at Dublin Airport and Phoenix Park."

A partial drought is a period of more than 29 consecutive days in which the mean daily rainfall does not exceed 0.2 mm.

Gavin Gallagher, Meteorologist for Met Éireann said: "Low Rainfall levels for March and thus far in April have brought drought and an increased risk of forest fires.

"The majority of monthly rainfall recordings across the country were below their long-term average for the month of March, as high pressure dominated our weather from mid-month.

"The lowest relative rainfall being 56pc of the expected monthly rainfall at Moore Park, Co Cork, with a monthly rainfall total of just 47.9 mm.

"The much drier than normal weather from the midpoint of March to mid-April has led to meteorological ‘Dry Spells’ and ‘Absolute Drought’ conditions in parts of Ireland.

"A dry spell is defined as a period of 15 or more consecutive days, to none of which is credited 1mm of precipitation, while absolute drought conditions in Ireland are defined as a period of 15 or more consecutive days to none of which is credited 0.2 mm or more of precipitation."

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