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Gorse fire turns valley in Cork into 'black landscape'

A raging gorse fire in south-west Ireland has burned out "the entire middle section" of a scenic valley, according to a rural hotel boss.

The blaze has been burning in Gougane Barra valley, Co Cork, since Saturday evening, covering some 4km (2.5 miles) at its peak, Cork County Fire Service said.

More than 30 firefighters tackled the inferno through the night, protecting a house and "a large area of forestry", believed to be some 300 acres, the service said.

Neil Lucey, 49, manager of Gougane Barra Hotel, said flames were still burning on either side of a "black landscape" on Monday morning.

He said: "Nobody slept last night. We know the valley well so we were out helping the fire service all we could.

"The entire middle section of the valley is black and burned-out this morning. It's just a black landscape.

"The fire is still going away to the left and the right. It's very unusual where it started. It's a highland area and it began Saturday evening, maybe around 7 o'clock.

"The flames started off quite small - then all of a sudden they took off and got really really big later on."

Firefighters described the blaze as "under control" on Monday afternoon, adding there had been several similar fires in west Cork over the weekend.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issued an "orange" warning, signalling there is a high fire risk, on April 19.

It said there had been a string of fires and "losses in forestry" in recent weeks owing to high pressure and favourable weather conditions.

There are no reports of any injuries.

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