Wildfires destroy more than 1,000 acres on the Slieve Blooms

Story by Olga Aughey

Friday, 13th July, 2018 11:00am

Wildfires destroy more than 1,000 acres on the Slieve Blooms

Over 1,000 acres of the Slieve Bloom Mountains have been destroyed by wildfires that are now "largely contained".

Described as one of the worst fires in history of the area, over 100 personnel tackled the fires on the ground following the outbreak of the blaze last Wednesday afternoon.

Over 40 firefighters from the Offaly and Laois Fire and Rescue Services and 75 Defence Forces troops drawn from barracks in Athlone and Kilkenny, have been stood down from the area, but "hotspots" continue to be monitored closely by Coillte.

"There are no longer any firefighters up there, it is being managed by Coillte now. It is contained bar a couple of hotspots," Clive Duke of the Offaly Fire and Rescue Service told the Offaly Independent on Thursday.

"It is now under control but with the weather the way it is, we may have to go back up there," he warned.

A five mile fire wall destroyed roughly 30 acres of forestry, while the rest was largely gorse and scrubland.

Cllr John Clendennen said all stakeholders are remaining on high alert until the arrival of a decent spell of rain. 

While the area is known as a nature reserve for the hen harrier, there is a bigger issue with displaced deer.

"Young deer seem to have become separated from their parents. When I was up there I saw at least six roaming around, isolated and on their own," commented Cllr Clendennen.

"I would send out a message to motorists to be aware of this because they have moved into new areas following the wildfires which appears to have displaced them from their original habitat," he said, adding that particular attention needs to be paid in the Clonaslee area."

Agusta Westland AW139 helicopters were utilised and equipped with a ‘Bambi’ bucket for aerial firefighting system capable of dropping 1,200 litres of water per pass. This amount of water, concentrated in a small areas, made an immediate impact on wildfires.

Tony Lowes of Freinds of the Envionment said his organisation is calling for the planting of broadleaves as they do not go up like tinder and also provide critical habitats. "The UK has just changed its forestry policy to ensure that even when conifers are planted there are belts of broadleaves required now to prevent the spread of forest fires. The uplands are fragile ecosystems. If they are planted at all it should be with mixed bropadleaves under continuous forestry cover management."

Clive Duke of the Offaly Fire and Rescue Service is continuing the message to the public not to light barbecues or burn waste.

"We are continuing our message to the public, not to light barbeques in wooded and gorse areas, not to light rubbish or burn waste," he warned.

Post a Comment

blog comments powered by Disqus