A TOTAL OF 15 wildfires were recorded across Ireland by the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) over the weekend with even more reported today.
The fires were in at least seven different counties including Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Galway, Donegal, Louth and Mayo with the IWT saying the illegal burning of vegetation is almost certainly to blame.
A weekend of dry weather has meant that fire services in rural areas have been forced to deal with the spike in wildfires with fears that the issue will persist into the summer.
“Every year we see the same wildlife wiped-out as hillsides and bogs get torched,” the IWT’s Pádraix Fogarty said today.
“It’s devastating not only for the natural environment but for the people who live in these areas as their livelihoods and property are put at risk.”
The wildfires recorded by the IWT over the weekend included fires on Achill Island, on the Dingle Peninsula and in Connemara.
One such gorse fire in Connemara near Baile na hAbhann was captured on film with fire services dealing with the fire into the night.Source: Fire Ireland.com/YouTube
The IWT points out that setting fire to vegetation is illegal between 1 March and 31 August but that farmers routinely break this law.
“It’s just not realistic or plausible to think that fires just spontaneously start,” Fogarty claims.
People will talk about cigarette butts and broken glass and stuff like that, but it’s just not plausible to think that all these fires could be started that way, and in particular since we know that a lot of them are deliberate. And we know because the local people who are reporting them to us tell us that they know who is doing it.
As well as the problem of potentially diverting vital fire services away from domestic emergencies, Fogarty also argues that the environmental balance suffers in the aftermath of such fires.
“We’re in the middle of the nesting season now. Frogs are spawning, flies will be coming out of their cocoons. Birds well be nesting their eggs and anything that is in the path of these flames is going to be destroyed.”