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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

'The scale of this fire is frightening': Out-of-control blaze stretches 8km long this evening

A blaze around 5km long is still burning at Cloosh Valley in Galway today.

Updated 9.15pm

A FIRE AROUND 8km long at one point is still burning out of control in a forest in Co Galway this evening, despite attempts from an Air Corps helicopter to assist in the effort to extinguish it.

The fire is being fought on three separate fronts this evening, as high winds and warm temperatures caused the fire to escalate the situation.

A regional emergency response operation is now in place as Coillte staff, the fire service, army and Air Corps battle to bring it under control.

It is hoped that respite will come in the form of lower temperatures later this evening. It is believed the fire was caused deliberately, and spread onto Coillte property.

In a statement this evening, government ministers have sought to remind land owners that it is an offence to burn any vegetation growing on any land not cultivated between 1 March and 31 August every year.

Minister for Rural Affairs Heather Humphreys said: “Deliberate or uncontrolled fires can destroy habitats, wildlife, farm land and farm structures and can threaten homes and lives.

There is a huge cost to this reckless behaviour not just to physical property, but also the cost of disruption to normal emergency services operations.


Coillte has said it is battling fires on its land at 30 locations, mostly in border counties. It follows weeks of dry weather conditions, which have also led to numerous gorse fires across the country.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Gerard Murphy of Coillte said that fires had been burning out of control on three fronts at the Cloosh Valley in Co Galway last evening.

Two have been brought under control overnight, he said.

Source: Eye In The Sky/YouTube

Firefighters have also managed to reduce the immediate threat to wind turbines in the area, he explained.

However, the fire presenting most concern was still 5km long, said Murphy.

The scale of this fire is frightening. It’s the worst I’ve seen in many years on the job – for thirty years plus.

He added:

I think we’re going to need every support there today.
I believe we will bring it under control, we’re going to hit it very hard this morning.

One helicopter was assisting firefighters at the scene yesterday. The Air Corps has also been asked for help, and sent one of its helicopters today.

A number of tankers are also battling the fire, along with ‘beaters’ on the ground. Two fire tenders are protecting the wind turbines.

3,000 hectares were still at risk, Murphy said. Asked how much damage had been caused, in terms of value, he replied:


Hugh damage had also been caused to the habitat, he said.

Coillte is also dealing with fires in counties Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo and Cavan.

A combination of dry weather, dry vegetation and windy conditions have led to an increased risk of gorse and forest fires in recent weeks.


According to Met Éireann, the dry spell is set to break over the weekend.

“After an exceptionally dry April, May so far has continued dry and the ground needs at least 50mm of rain to restore moisture levels to normal,” the weather service’s latest outlook said this morning.

The trend is for the dry spell to break down with rain developing across the country over the coming weekend and next week but just some scattered showers are likely for Thursday and Friday.

Read: Thousands of acres of Irish forest at ‘major risk of destruction’ >

Read: ‘Our family cannot and will not rest’: Brother of murdered teenager in fresh appeal >

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