Donegal fire under control as Air Corps helicopter drops 42,000 litres of water on blaze

Picture: Micheal Mac Giolla Easbuig

Update 9.30pm: The Donegal wildfires are now under control after an Air Corps helicopter dropped over 42,000 litres of water onto the smouldering gorse.

The Defence Forces joined the operation at 5pm this evening - assisting firefighters, Civil Defence and local volunteers who had been battling the blaze since 6am this morning.

The fire will continue to be monitored overnight with a number of 'hot-spots' still under observation.

The Defence Forces' Captain Paddy Molloy says the army and Air Corps are ready to offer further assistance if needed.

He said: "As of tonight, operations have been stood down, pending further requests tomorrow to aid the local authorities."

Local councillor Mícheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easpaig says locals are prepared to work through the night to keep the fire from flaring up again.

"Well, people you know are strong. People have pulled together," he said.

"We're very lucky, we have a fantastic community here in west Donegal and when things are tough communities pull together and do what has to be done.

"We'll stand by all night. All we can do is hope for rain."

Update 6.36pm: Firecrew battling gorse fire in Donegal trapped but not in immediate danger; TD 'furious' at Gov. over speed of Defence Forces' response

By Stephen Maguire

A firecrew battling the huge gorse fire in West Donegal have become trapped.

The crew are battling to save a house in the Belcruit area but have been surrounded by flames.

The firemen are not in immediate danger as they have doused the area around them.

They are now awaiting helicopters to put out the fires around them so they can exit the area and secure the house.

One fireman told Donegal Daily: "This is unreal stuff. I have battled a lot of gorse fires over the years but this is amongst the most dangerous.

Everything is bone dry and there is a strong wind so these are perfect conditions for the fires to spread rapidly.

The Minister with responsibility for Defence has confirmed that an Air Corps helicopter is on route to Donegal to help tackle the fires.

Paul Kehoe added that army personnel from nearby Finner Camp are also providing ground support.

Meanwhile, Donegal TD Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher has sharply criticised the Government over the speed of the Defence Forces' response.

He said he had looked for a helicopter to be deployed much earlier today.

"The helicopter has just arrived at Carrickfinn Airport around five o'clock, some seven-and-a-half hours after it was requested," said Mr Gallagher

"I'm absolutely furious, as are all of the people, because this helicopter with a huge bucket can play an important role."

Update 1.46pm: Minister calls in Air Corps and soldiers to fight massive Donegal blaze

The Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, has scrambled Air Corps helicopters and Army personnel to the scene of a serious gorse fire in West Donegal.

The huge fire in the Annagry and Loughanure areas is out of control and in danger of coming into contact with homes.

At least eight sections of Donegal Fire Service have been battling the blaze for the past five hours.

They have been supported on the ground by scores of local volunteers who are risking their lives to beat out the flames.

Local TD and Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat the Cope Gallagher called on the Minister for Defence to mobile the Air Corps and soldiers in a bid to halt the spread of the fires.

He has criticised how long it has taken the Minister to make a decision on the matter.

"The Minister has just called me to confirm the approval has been given for a helicopter to travel to Annagry and that Army personnel are also being sent to assist Donegal."

"Myself and Donegal County Council requested the Minister to send up the Air Corps four hours ago and they have only mobilised them a short time ago and I am very disappointed that it took so long.

"We cannot delay this any longer as these fires are out of control. We must stop this fire as it spreads towards homes," he said.

There is still no indication as to how the latest fires started.

Donegal County Council also made a decision to employ a private company to bring in a helicopter to spread water over the flames.

The water for the choppers is to be taken from nearby lakes and then spread over the most dangerous areas.

Among those battling the blaze is local county councillor Micheal Mac Giolla Easbuig.

"It is very intense. As soon as the fire service get it under control the wind whips up the flames again.

"The community response has been amazing but we are still in the middle of trying to bring this under control," he said.

It comes just days after two homes were destroyed two homes in Annagry.

Earlier: Buildings lost as firefighters battle gorse fire in Donegal

Firefighters in West Donegal are trying to control a large gorse fire.

Locals have called for the Minister for Defence to deploy Army helicopters and troops to help them contain the blaze at Loughanure.

The N56 is closed between Dungloe and Gaoth Dobhair.

Councillor Micheal Mac Giolla Easbuig said are helping in the fight to stop the spread of the fire.

He said: "We're up in Annagry and unfortunately the mountain is on fire. Houses are being evacuated and, unfortunately, buildings have been lost.

"The fire service is doing a fantastic job and volunteers are fighting tirelessly to try to stop the spread of the fire."

Earlier: Massive gorse fire threatens homes in Donegal

A massive gorse fire in West Donegal is putting houses under threat.

The fire, which is located between Loughanure and Annagry, started in the early hours of this morning.

Five units of the Donegal Fire Service are currently tackling the blaze.

Firemen are also digging trenches and dousing down the exterior of houses in a bid to divert the flames from dwellings.

Dozens of locals are also supporting the fire services as entire communities battle to put out the fires.

Among those battling the blaze is local county councillor Micheal Mac Giolla Easbuig.

"It is very intense. As soon as the fire service get it under control the wind whips up the flames again.

File photo.

"The community response has been amazing but we are still in the middle of trying to bring this under control," he said.

It comes just days after two homes were destroyed two homes in Annagry.

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