Hundreds of acres of land burned illegally in the Wicklow Mountains

‘People are setting fires in rural areas and letting them run away up the mountains’

Sixteen square kilometres of scrubland in the Wicklow Mountains have been destroyed by wildfires started deliberately. Video: Enda O'Dowd

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

Sixteen square kilometres of scrubland in the Wicklow Mountains have been destroyed by wildfires started deliberately.

The fires were started, it is thought, by locals burning dead vegetation out of season and at a time when a prolonged drought has left the whole area prone to wildfires.

They were started too in defiance of a Department of Agriculture orange fire warning which prohibited the burning of upland vegetation during the recent dry spell.

There has been multiple calls from the department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to farmers not to burn vegetation at this time.

Fire crews have been battling the fires for the last week in an area of Wicklow between Laragh/Glendalough and Blessington Lakes.

They were joined on Thursday by an air corps helicopter from Baldonnel Aerodrome and a private helicopter which dropped water on the flames.

Wicklow chief fire officer Aidan Dempsey said the process of burning dead vegetation has been going on for hundreds of years but that it is supposed to stop after the winter.

Not only was this disregarded, he added, but many people have lit multiple fires in the area in adjacent locations to ensure that it is extensive and spread.

“People are setting fires in rural areas and letting them run away up the mountains,” he said.

“As an operation that we take pride and satisfaction in, it is frustrating to have to do this while there is a pandemic on and people are making great sacrifices around the country.

“We would have hoped that the people who set these fires would have taken that on board and refrained from doing it, at least this year.”