Village has narrow escape as gorse fires blaze across South-West

A picturesque West Cork village narrowly escaped becoming an inferno on Saturday night after a four-hour battle to contain a mammoth gorse fire, one of several to strike the South-West at the weekend.

While the rest of the country shivered in freezing temperatures, residents of Ardgroom on the Beara peninsula watched as white-hot flames lapped closer to their homes.

The blaze — which at one point spread almost five miles wide — was by far the largest of the gorse fires to hit Cork and Kerry. And while nobody was injured during the blaze, as our photograph from artist John Eagle shows, the inferno at one point risked stretching close to the village itself.

“One or two houses were only a few hundred yards away,” he said.

Two fire trucks from Castletownbere were alerted to the blaze at 9.30pm on Saturday and eventually brought it under control after 1.30am on Sunday.

The reason for the blaze is still being investigated.

While gorse fires can be started with the deliberate intent to cause damage, they can also get out of control when farmers burn the gorse to access the grass underneath.

A number of other gorse fires, including one in Ballinaboula, Dingle, Co Kerry, were also reported over the weekend.

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