Large gorse fire on Cooley Peninsula may have started with camp fire

Members of the public had to be turned back this morning after they wanted to take pictures of damage caused by a large fire, flamed by the wind, on the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth that began yesterday afternoon.
Large gorse fire on Cooley Peninsula may have started with camp fire
Pictures: Ciara Wilkinson

Members of the public had to be turned back this morning after they wanted to take pictures of damage caused by a large fire, flamed by the wind, on the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth that began yesterday afternoon.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Louth, Colm Lambe, has said that the Jenkinstown wood area, on the peninsula, “is a no go area. It is absolutely horrendous conditions and for any lay person coming down here, it is an absolute a ‘no-no.’”

He estimated that some 30 acres of mainly harvest land were affected by the fire; the alarm was sounded around 4.30pm yesterday afternoon and by last night crews from four of the five stations in Louth were battling it.

Two houses were evacuated for a time but no injuries have been reported either to the public or the frontline services.

Mr Lambe said that at the moment “it has not travelled much into the forest, it is more harvest land and we are looking at up on 30 acres that has been effected.”

He confirmed that the Louth Fire and Rescue Service is also dealing with a separate fire close to Carrickarnon and “again there is a lot of gorse involved.

"We are looking at 10—15 acres but it is spreading.”

He said the wind, “is a big one (factor) at the moment.”

The fire service had assistance from Coillte whose helicopter has been doing water drops at both locations this morning.

A spokesperson for Coillte said, “Coillte were made aware of the fire on Sunday evening and started measures immediately to contain it.

"Coillte personnel working overnight and the Coillte helicopter have contained the fire but a large area of the forest has been damaged."

“Coillte deployed staff on the ground with dedicated fire fighting equipment, including a fire fighting helicopter.

"Due to the current conditions of extremely dry vegetation, strong winds and lack of rain, the fire escalated quickly but has since been contained.”

“It is too early to confirm the source of the ignition but it appears that the fire may have arisen from a campfire in the woods and Coillte are working with the Gardaí to investigate the source.”

The spokesperson said that there is a Status Red warning in place for forest fires this weekend, which is the highest level possible.

It said Coillte is currently attending other forest fires in counties Laois, Leitrim, Kildare and Sligo.

“Even small fires can get out of control very quickly and pose a significant threat to health and safety and the fire fighting personnel.

"Forest fires cause extreme damage to wildlife and nature and can cost thousands of euro in damage.

"Coillte ask the public not to light any fires in the outdoors this weekend and to report any forest fires immediately to the emergency services.”

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