23/04/2010

Fires Breaks Sought After Bogland Blaze

A Fine Gael TD has called for the creation of 'fire breaks' after a bonfire-sparked blaze, which had forced the closure of a section of main road in Mayo, was finally this morning brought under control.

The road was closed after thick plumes of smoke from the fire made it unsafe for motorists between Belmullet and Bangor Erris while several hundred acres of bogland were damaged by the blaze.

A spokesman for Mayo Fire Service said several units of the Brigade were needed to get the blaze under control.

Fine Gael Kerry Senator, Paul Coghlan, this morning announced he has written to the Minister for the Environment to ask him to ensure that adequate fire breaks are created at the beginning of each burning season in and around Killarney National Park so that future devastation, caused by the outbreak of wild fires, can be avoided.

The call comes on the back of several serious fires last week, with current conditions making it difficult to extinguish bog and forest fires.

Yesterday, extensive damage is reported to have been caused by forest fires in Connemara as Fire fighters in Co Galway were called out last night in an attempt to bring this year's bog fires near the village of Moycullen under control.

Meanwhile last week fire teams and locals found it difficult to extinguish a fire on over 1,860 acres of heather and furze between Ard na gCoistí and the foot of Mangerton Mountain in the heart of Killarney National Park, which also led to extensive damage.

Senator Coghlan said: "I have written to Minister Gormley to ask him to ensure that proper fire breaks are cut at the beginning of each burning season as the threat to houses that dot the edge of the commonage and the local flora and fauna is enormous.

“It is recommended that the Fire Service and Killarney National Park should liaise with the local community to ensure this situation is kept under control.

"Furthermore it has been suggested that information brochures should be circulating to every household in Muckross now and annually before the beginning of each burning season.

“We cannot sit idly by and wait until it's too late. The Minister must address this issue before the worst case scenario happens where the natural environment, houses in Muckross and ultimately human lives go up in smoke."

A spokesman for Mayo Fire Service appealed to landowners and others in the area not to start fires on their own land as it has become extremely difficult to get bog and forest fires under control over the past four days.

Meanwhile, up North, About 50 firefighters are tackling a large gorse fire on Slieve Donard Mountain near Newcastle in Co Down.

(DW/BMcc)

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