Department of Agriculture announces orange fire warning until Friday

It followed a surge in call-outs to wildfires across Cork over the weekend and a massive blaze in Killarney National Park on Sunday night.
Department of Agriculture announces orange fire warning until Friday
A firefighter tackling a gorse fire in Cork. Picture: Cork County Fire Service.

The Department of Agriculture has announced an orange fire warning, in place until Friday.

The warning was announced yesterday and “is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels such as heather and gorse exist”.

The Department said the risk is “arising from current dry and sunny conditions associated with an Atlantic high-pressure system”.

The warning is in place until midday on Friday.

A statement from the department read: “Based on recent fire incidents, most ignitions risks appear to be associated with illegal burning of upland vegetation.

“Fire behaviour is likely to be influenced by increased fuel desiccation during preceding days and moderate northerly and north-easterly wind speeds, and increased caution is required during suppression operations.

“Pending significant rainfall, this risk condition will remain in place until 1200hrs on Friday, April 3rd, 2020 unless otherwise stated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.”

Earlier this week, firefighters issued an immediate "cease and desist" warning to landowners about the setting of controlled fires.

It followed a surge in call-outs to wildfires across Cork over the weekend and a massive blaze in Killarney National Park on Sunday night.

Under the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to set controlled fires in an attempt to clear scrub or vegetation from March 1 to September 1.

But the Cork County Fire Service said it has had to task fire fighting crews from Bantry, Castletownbere, Schull, Skibbereen, Dunmanway, Midleton, Macroom, Mallow and Fermoy Fire Brigades, to tackle several gorse or outdoor fires in the region since last Thursday.

Firefighters in Kerry spent several hours on Sunday night tackling a massive blaze in Killarney National Park. An estimated 150-acres of land have been damaged.

The NPWS said such blazes present an annual threat to the park, and to the safety of residents, visitors, fire-fighters and wildlife.

Kerry County Council has now warned people against the setting of illegal gorse fires and it has urged the public not to place any additional strain on emergency services at a time of national crisis.

- with reporting from Eoin English and Eve Kelliher

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