More gorse fires: Out of control

Gorse fires can occur naturally, but there is a strong suspicion that many, if not the majority, are as a result of arson designed to clear land for grazing.

Over recent days there were fires in counties Cork, Wicklow, Cavan, and parts of the North. Two new fires broke out in West Cork yesterday between Skibbereen and Schull. 

In one incident late last week, a family of five was left homeless when their house, near Kiltimagh in Co Mayo, was destroyed.

Coillte said hundreds of hectares of productive commercial forestry were destroyed. The loss, and the cost of replanting would amount to millions, the State agency warned.

Environmentalists and conservationists have regularly condemned what is one of our less attractive and destructive traditions, but the Mayo incident moves the practice to a new level. 

It shows the fires, and changing wind patterns, can get dangerously out of control. It is not an exaggeration to say that it seems a matter of time before a life, or lives, are lost.

This makes it even more difficult to understand why there are so few prosecutions for these crimes.


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