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Dublin: 15°C Tuesday 19 October 2021

Wicklow gorse fires: 'We don't know if the house will be there when we get home'

Brendan Beirne’s family have been evacuated from their home four times in the last six weeks.

IMG_1949 A firefighter attempting to douse the flames last Wednesday. Source: Brendan Beirne

A FAMILY IN Wicklow have been living in fear of losing their home over the last six weeks as gorse fires raged around them.

Father-of-one Brendan Beirne who lives in the Sally Gap area said his family has been evacuated four times in the last month and a half.

“The three previous times were at night when the fire got within metres of the house but on Wednesday, the flames were all around the house, almost engulfing it and without the fire brigade it would have been gone.”

Source: Brendan Beirne

Source: Brendan Beirne

The young family have been forced to take refuge with other family members and only got back into their home on Sunday because of the smoke from the dying fire and the smell from the bog that was still burning.

It happens every year and it’s just because people think they can light fires to clear gorse, sometimes it can be malicious, or it can be a combination of things but people think they can just walk away from it with no consequences and just let the wind take it.

Beirne believes the people starting these fires are putting lives at risk, as Wednesday’s fire required more than 20 firefighters and five fire engines for more than eight hours just to stop his and his neighbours homes from going up in flames.

Source: Brendan Beirne

“It was absolutely necessary but there was a huge amount of Wicklow fire services just trying to contain these fires in the mountains – what would have happened if there was something else big in the area they were needed at?”

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He is hoping stories like his will encourage people in the area to think twice before setting fires to clear gorse.

Source: Brendan Beirne

“We’re snowed in in the winter and burnt out in the summe but we’re not going anywhere, it’s our home and we’re not going to let it beat us, but it’s frustrating to say the least. The thing we deal with on a day to day basis now is :”Will the house be there when we get home?”

For now, it appears the fires have died down but it will be a long summer for this man and his family.

Read: Minister accused of being ‘clueless’ over wildfires>

Read: Smoke from a gorse fire blocked out the sun in Galway earlier>

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