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Scenes of the blaze yesterday. Carlow Fire Service
Carlow

Wildfires 'ran riot' across more than 500 acres of the Blackstairs Mountains yesterday

‘Indiscriminately lighting fires at 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening at the bottom of the mountain and letting it run riot is unacceptable,’ Carlow’s fire chief said.

FIRE CREWS FOUGHT to control five separate wildfires on the Blackstairs Mountains in Co Carlow yesterday.

The county’s fire chief criticised people who were “indiscriminately lighting fires” at the bottom of the mountain and “letting it run riot”, requiring crews to attend the dangerous scene and close a public road.

Crews have been out on a number of occasions since Sunday evening to respond to alerts about the blazes.

Carlow County Fire and Rescue told The Journal that the largest fire covered approximately 500 acres of one mountain.

Its crews left the mountain at around 3.30am overnight after getting all but one of the fires under control. The remaining fire was too high to reach, the fire service said.

Smoke from the wildfires caused one road between Carroll’s Cross and the Nine Stones to be “impassable” for several hours due to low visibility from smoke from wildfires.

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There was also a major fire alerted in Easkey, Co Sligo last night, as reported by Ocean FM.

Carlow’s acting fire chief Liam Carroll told local radio that the fires reached such a size that they could be seen “some 70km away” in Tipperary.

Carroll told KCLR FM that ‘fire season’ typically takes place in March and April but was coming later this year due to wetter weather.

The likelihood of fires getting out of control is partly due to easterly and northerly winds drying up the grass and heather on the mountains.

While there is a practice to use burning as a method of “land management” for the mountains, Carroll warned: “When it’s done it needs to be done at the proper time of the year, when it’s not nesting grounds and the Fire Service has to be informed about it.

But Carroll said the fires are “deliberately started” in many cases, by a “combination of lots of different people” for various reasons.

“Our firefighters would have seen people with quads and people just driving up to the mountain and lighting fires in the distance.

“[These are] people with no association with farming, so it’s a combination of a lot of different factors. But it is illegal to light fires in open ground.”

He added: “Indiscriminately lighting fires at 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening at the bottom of the mountain and letting it run riot is unacceptable from our perspective.”

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