Landowners in Louth are being asked to be vigilant after firefighters battled nine serious gorse and heather fires in the last week, which have threatened the homes of vulnerable people isolating in Covid-19.
Louth Co. Council has made the appeal to all landowners in the Cooley Peninsula and other shrubland areas in the county to ensure there are no illegal burning of gorse or other vegetation on their lands.
Louth Fire service fought one of blazes in Flagstaff Hill, Omeagh for 16 hours to stop it spreading to forestry on both sides of the border while all the fires, which occurred between April 17th and 20th have burned large areas of vegetation
Chief Fire Officer with Louth County Council, Eamon Woulfe said: “All burning of land is prohibited and these fires are therefore illegal. It appears that many wildland fires are not accidental, so we would appeal to landowners to be vigilant about what is happening on their land.
"These fires have caused considerable disruption to rural communities and habitats, and have threatened the homes of vulnerable people isolating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also put extensive areas of forestry at risk.
“In addition, the scale of these fires has put Louth’s fire and medical first responder service resources under strain, when they are already exceptionally busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. They can also cause a public safety risk by diverting fire brigade resources away from life-risk fires, including serious house fires.”
The Department of Agriculture has issued an ‘orange’ high fire risk warning, indicating that a high fire risk is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels, including heather and gorse, exist. This risk alert will remain in place until 12:00 on 24th April, bar significant rainfall in the interim.
Mr Woulfe added: “We would appeal to landowners to be vigilant about what is happening on their land and to ensure no fires are started; to people visiting such areas, bearing in mind the requirement to remain within 2km of their home, to be careful not to accidentally start a fire, and for anyone who sees such a fire to report it immediately by dialling 999 or 112. People who report gorse fires will not be billed for making the call.
“We would also like to remind landowners that those found to be burning illegally could face fines, imprisonment and Single Farm Payment penalties, where applicable. The Council will beproviding full details of all of these fires to the Department of Agriculture for any action it may wish to take.”