Fire fighters tackle 28 gorse fires across Kerry

The fires were lit ahead of the March 1 Wildfire Acts cut off point for the burning of scrubland
Fire fighters tackle 28 gorse fires across Kerry

Gorse Fires across the Harbour on the Keel mountain on Wednesday night. Picture: Realt Na Mara Shellfish Ltd/ Facebook

Crews from eight of the ten Kerry fire stations were involved in fighting almost 30 gorse fires across the county from Valenita to Killarney on Wednesday night. 

Some of the fires in the areas of Sneem and Killarney threatened homes. 

The fires were lit ahead of the March 1 Wildfire Acts cut off point for the burning of scrubland.  

Many had begun as “controlled” or supervised burnings, but were driven out of control by strong winds.

However, a fire in the early hours at Mangerton on the edge of the forest of the Killarney National Park was not controlled and fire crews from Killarney attended the scene at around 2.30 am. 

A second large fire at nearby Loughquittane had also begun as a controlled burn but it too spread.

One of the most serious fires occurred in the vicinity of Inch beach and fire crews attending that blaze had to diversify to also attend to a shed fire at nearby Callinafercy.

A massive gorse fire lit up the area of Keel Mountain and a social media post from Realt na Mara Shelfish company at Cromane beach showed the sea lit up by the mountain fire.

Another huge fire was reported at Tahilla in Sneem, with flames reaching several feet in height, came within 200 metres of houses.

Bob Birchley, who lives in Tahilla said flames from one fire came very close to his property.

Speaking to Radio Kerry, Mr Birchley said that while he understood the reasons for the burnings, but that Wednesday’s fires were dangerous.

“I’m sure they have to look after the land, I’ve got no problem of that at all.

"But it concerns me when they endanger lives and properties on the land, or very close to the land," he said.

"It was within probably 200metres of us. We’re up a bit high from the river, about 20 metres up, and the flames were above our heads.

The blaze must have been at least 30 metres high," Mr Birchley said. 

Strickeen Mountain in the Gap of Dunloe, a popular walking area was also set alight; as was scrubland at Castlemaine, Fieries and at locations in north and west Kerry.

Kerry County Council have confirmed were 28 separate gorse/field fire incidents in the 24 hour period and in many cases, fire fires were attended by a number of brigades.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mike Flynn said the fire service worked until 6am this morning to bring fires under control.

He also urged farmers to follow appropriate procedures around controlled scrubland burnings.

"If farmers wish to burn up to that period - up to the last day of February, if we have suitable weather and conditions are there - they need to follow the procedure," he said. 

"They need to sign the fire brigade control system on 99 or 112, give the information that you’re going to do the controlled burn, and give your name, contact number and the location of it.

They started off ok yesterday, but the wind took off, and they caused problems," he said. 

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