Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Homeowners warned as gorse blazes break out in west of Ireland

Residents have been put on alert after dozens of gorse fires in the west of Ireland threatened houses and buildings.

Fire crews in Galway and Mayo were working around the clock to curtail a series of gorse fires which spread rapidly in dry conditions and fresh winds.

Nobody has been injured in the fires which swept through large tracts of Connemara yesterday, with fire crews also battling a large gorse fire near Oranmore. In Co Mayo, fires which broke out in the Ballycroy area overnight were eventually brought under control by the fire service yesterday.

The fires broke out on Monday evening close to the N59 Ballina/Westport Road.

But the worst of the fires have been in Co Galway where a fire chief said that saving houses was their main priority as they continued to battle gorse fires in the county for a fifth day.

The firefighters have responded to more than 50 gorse fire call outs since Good Friday, with some fires threatening homes in Connemara over the weekend.

In the west of the county, two homes in particular were in danger after oil tanks exploded near their premises, but Galway Chief Fire Officer Michael Raftery said they were keeping on top of the fires.

"Homes are our priority. In west Galway oil talks have gone up near houses after fires came in from bog and gorse fires.

"So I'd urge people, particularly on the edge of bog areas to be very careful around those boundaries. They don't realise how quick the fire can move across the bog and gorse to their boundaries."

Six units of Galway fire brigade spent yesterday fighting fires around An Spideal, while Monday night saw large fires break out in the Barna and Ornamore areas after earlier blazes in Clegan and on the Curraghline.

Mr Raftery has urged everyone to be on full alert until the windy, dry weather changes at the weekend.

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