‘Extreme danger’ red warning for forest fires in place until Friday

Poor visibility around Wicklow mountains following gorse fires


The Department of Agriculture has extended its red forest fire danger notice, which is in effect until midday on Friday.

The department has advised that all outdoor use of fires, barbecues and other open ignition sources should be avoided on forest lands and in other high risk areas. The notice follows an initial warning issued last week.

“Arising from current prolonged high pressure weather patterns, high temperatures and effective drought conditions, an extreme fire risk is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels exist,” the notice said.

“The risk is further compounded by higher ignitions risks associated with increased human activity on high fire risk land types associated with current weather.”

The department said issuing a red warning is a “comparatively rare event” and “implies that recipients should take immediate action to protect resources and property”.

They said this may include mobilising and assembling water tankers, machinery, personnel and air support in high risk areas.

Extreme caution is also advised regarding hay making and the use of machinery, and other agricultural activity that might present a risk of fire in dry vegetation in current conditions.

The department said there appears to be a “strong correlation” between fire activity and illegal dumping on public lands in recent days.

“An increased vigilance by land managers and landowners is advised,” it said. The situation is due to be reviewed again by the department on Friday.

Separately, gardai have warned pedestrians and motorists of issues with visibility in parts of the Wicklow mountains following gorse fires over the last week.

Wicklow Fire Service were battling fires in the area over the weekend with gardaí advising pedestrians and motorists to use extreme caution between the Sally Gap and Glencree.

“While the fires have been dealt with, we are telling people to be extremely careful,” a Garda spokeswoman said.

“We are asking people to obey the road signs as there are serious risks involved if not heeded.”

Wicklow Fire Service was assisted by the Air Corps and State forest company Coillte.