Man dies while burning gorse


SENIOR FIRE service personnel and gardaí in Kerry have urged vigilance in the burning of heath and mountain scrub after an 80-year-old man lost his life while setting fire to gorse in south Kerry.

Named locally as Michael O’Shea, the single man from Mastergeeha, near Cahersiveen, is believed to have been burning gorse near his home on Thursday afternoon when he was apparently overcome by smoke near the bushes he was trying to burn.

His body was found by a neighbour and removed to Kerry General Hospital, where a postmortem was being carried out yesterday.

Supt Michael O’Donovan described the death of the elderly, quiet-living man as a tragedy for his family and particularly for his sister, with whom he lived.

He urged caution when burning gorse and other material outdoors.

Meanwhile, fire services in west Kerry were fighting a major gorse fire near Dingle hospital late yesterday.

Two units of the fire service from Tralee were called to the mountain fire, alongside units from the Dingle fire service.

This is the start of the gorse burning season in the county, in which sheep farmers burn scrub in the belief it encourages better grass growth. The burning is illegal after March 1st and until August 31st.

Kerry’s assistant chief fire officer Michael Flynn said the fire service should always be notified before burning started. Forestry owners and neighbours should also be informed, he said.