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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Council criticises 'uncontrolled burning' as Irish Air Corps drops 42,000 litres on Wicklow fires

Firefighters have been battling blazes along the Wicklow-Dublin border since Monday.

Updated Feb 27th 2019, 10:50 PM

THE WICKLOW UPLANDS Council has criticised “uncontrolled burning” that has seen the Irish Air Corps deployed to fight wildfires burning along the Dublin-Wicklow border. 

There have been blazes at Hollywood, Bohernabreena, Kippure and Lacken since Monday and the Wicklow Uplands Council has criticised the manner in which the fires have been lit. 

Landowners are permitted to burn and cut vegetation up until tomorrow, but the council has criticised the manner in which some burning has taken place this week. 

“The current permissive season for the burning and cutting of upland vegetation ends on 28 February. There is a perception among some that burning within the permissive season is ‘controlled’, while outside the season is ‘uncontrolled’. This is not the case,” the group said in a statement.

The unusually dry weather this week has seen a number of fires being lit around the uplands but in some cases these fires are not controlled and are damaging to the environment and a threat to public safety and property. 

Wicklow Uplands Council explains that burning is carried out to clear vegetation and to regenerate new vegetation growth for livestock. It adds, however, that this should be carried out in the correct way:

As controlled burning is carried out on a small scale, and on a rotational basis, it results a mosaic of vegetation type and structure which in turn supports greater biodiversity.These are low intensity fires which do not damage the underlying soil structure. Controlled burning should always be followed with an appropriate grazing regime to reduce the need for future burns.

“Lighting a fire and walking away is not controlled and results in extensive environmentally damage.”

Earlier today, the Minister of State for Defence, Paul Keogh, announced that he had approved the deployment of the air corps to assist in combating the wildfires.

PastedImage-56168 An AW139 helicopters using a 'Bambi Bucket' to pick up water. Source: Twitter/IrishAirCorps

In an update this evening, the Irish Air Corps said it dropped over 42,000 litres of water, mainly in the Kippure and Glendoo area.  

Two of the Air Corps’ AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters have been deployed in a bid to extinguish the burning gorse.

The helicopters are equipped with ‘Bambi buckets’ which are capable of dumping over 1,200 litres of water in one drop.

Wicklow’s Chief Fire Officer Aiden Dempsey told East Coast FM that the blazes have threatened property and they weren’t started accidentally.

A spokesperson for gardaí said the fires were controlled planned burns and the gardaí and Fire Services were put on notice of this prior to the burning.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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