Coillte warns of 'high risk' of gorse fires

Coillte warns of 'high risk' of gorse fires
Emergency services battling a gorse fire in co. clare yesterday. Pic: Patrick Flynn

Coillte has warned that the recent dry spell has increased the risk of gorse fires across the country.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine has issued a national high fire risk rating this week for all areas of dead grasses, heather and gorse.

Coillte has urged people to adhere to the Government Covid-19 related restrictions, saying their forest car parks are closed, but the forests remain open for people who live within 2 kilometers of them to take brief physical exercise in line with the Government guidelines.

Coillte said: "This is especially important as, due to the prolonged spell of dry weather, there is an increased risk of fire around forest parks and recreational sites."

It also asked people to avoid all outdoor use of fires and other open ignition sources such as cigarettes on forest lands, saying: "If you spot a fire or smoke please contact your local fire services immediately."

    The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

Mick Power, Coillte National Estates Risks Manager, said: “Last week’s gorse fires diverted vital emergency services away from focusing on the Covid-19 pandemic, putting unnecessary pressure on emergency services and placing lives at risk.

"There is a high risk of fires now, particularly in upland areas. This is expected to continue as we experience ongoing dry weather over the spring and summer months.”

“As such, Coillte encourages all members of the public to abide by the Government guidelines and stay at home. It is particularly important that emergency services are not put at additional risk during what is already an incredibly difficult period for all frontline services across the country.”

Mr Power also reminded landowners that under the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to burn growing vegetation on uncultivated land between March 1 and August 31. They face prosecution which could lead to fines, imprisonment and penalties to their farm payments.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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