Forest fire continues to rage across Slieve Bloom mountains
Some roads closed as members of the public advised to stay away from the area
Sightseers are also being warned to stay away from the Slieve Bloom mountains. Photograph: Offaly Fire & Rescue Service/Facebook
Firefighters continue to battle a large forest fire along the Slieve Blooms on Thursday.
Crews from Laois and Offaly returned to the mountainous area at 6am on Thursday to continue efforts to extinguish the large fire, which has burned across the Slieve Blooms since early on Wednesday.
Two helicopters, including an Air Corps helicopter, were deployed to the area first thing on Thursday to resume dropping water on the area.
Irish Air Corps have asked people to not fly drones near the fire as they cause “severe flight safety hazard for our crews”.
Four brigades of Laois and Offaly firefighters were joined on the ground by 30 members of the defence forces in battling the blaze.
A spokesman for the Central Fire Station in Tullamore, Co Offaly said the fire had died down overnight due to cooler temperatures and slower winds.
He said if Thursday’s cloudy conditions persisted, the teams might be able to extinguish to flames.
Members of the public have been advised to stay away from the Slieve Bloom mountains in counties Laois and Offaly and to not travel to the fire to “have a look”.
Offaly Fire Service said access to roads needed to be maintained while firefighting operations continued.
Sightseers are also being warned to stay away from the Slieve Bloom mountains.
The fire service warned that “wind directions can quickly change and you may become isolated and trapped by fire spread” .
A helicopter continued dropping water from a local lake onto the fire for a number of hours on Wednesday.
AA Roadwatch said on Thursday that the Mountrath/Kinnitty Road (R440) would remain closed through the Slieve Bloom mountains until further notice due to the fires.
Gardaí have also advised people to avoid the area entirely while smoke is affecting visibility on the M7 between J18 Portlaoise West and J18 M9 and also on the Portlaoise Road.
Offaly Fire Services posted aerial footage showing the extent of the flames on Facebook and warned people to “please, please, please stay away from the area”.
“Do not travel to ‘have a look’,” advised the rescue service.
In an earlier post, the fire service reminded people not to dispose of cigarettes out of car windows while driving and to refrain from lighting fires, either for farming or any other reason.
“As we are currently involved in a significant forest fire we ask the public to assist us in limiting the potential for further outbreaks,” it wrote. “If you see a fire report it. We all have a responsibility to the environment and our local economy to limit the potential for these fires to start.”