Helicopters take to Slieve Bloom mountains as forest fires rage

‘Forest fire tourists’ asked to stay away as firefighting continues on large swathes of land

Coillte has responded to 50 forest fires during the recent heat wave. The largest fire is in the Slieve Bloom mountains on the Laois/Offaly border. Video: Irish Defence Forces

 

People are again being asked to stay away from the Slieve Bloom mountains in counties Laois and Offaly as firefighting efforts continue on Saturday morning.

A Defence Forces spokesman confirmed two helicopters left Baldonnel this morning to assist with the firefight on the midland mountain range.

Offaly and Laois Fire Services are providing water tanker support Coillte and the Air Corps’ helicopter firefighting operations. “Please avoid the area of the Cut as road closures are in place to facilitate firefighting operations,” Offaly Fire Services stated.

The blaze, which broke out on Wednesday morning on the Offaly side of the mountains, has now burned large swathes of land in the Slieve Blooms.

Kinnitty based Councillor John Clendennen said: “Offaly Chief Fire Officer has informed me this morning that fire crews are again attending to fires on the mountain with the assistance of Coillte and the Air Corps, with a helicopter also back at the site.”

He said people are being advised to avoid The Cut Road between Clonaslee and Mountrath.

“Considering how dry the terrain is, the high temperatures and the scale of fires to date, it is expected that fire-fighting and monitoring will continue until a change in weather conditions,” he stated.

On Friday, Laois’s Fire Chief Declan Power asked “forest fire tourists” to stay away from the Slieve Bloom mountains as firefighting efforts continued.

Mr Power said “we don’t require forest fire tourists.”

Separately, the National Parks and Wildlife Service(NPWS) said fires on their lands are under control and they thanked their staff, the fire services and Air Corps.

They estimated that 500 acres of heather has been destroyed in their eastern nature reserves.