Farmers did not cause the fire that ravaged thousands of acres of Killarney national park and farmers’ land last April, a Garda investigation into has concluded.
Thousands of acres of the national park were damaged by the fire, which firefighters battled for five days.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Inspector Gary Thompson said no criminal activity was found as part of the investigation.
Not a farming matter
“It wasn’t a farming matter and it wasn’t land clearance, we’re quite satisfied with that.
“The fires that weekend burned in one direction, then back over the same area again. It was probably human accident. We found no accelerant, no gasoline, no barbecue. It could have been someone with a small camp fire, it could have been a cigarette [that sparked the fire],” he said.
Inspector Thompson, who led the investigation, said that the fire started in the Eagle’s Nest area of the national park.
“Something as simple as a discarded cigarette could have set it off. It wasn’t anything to do with farmers clearing gorse, there was no benefit for any farmer to go burning it,” he said.
The inspector said that Gardaí brought the fire investigation team down from Dublin to investigate the blaze over three days.
They walked the area extensively, he said, and took to the skies in a helicopter as part of the investigation along with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff.
“It was a warm April and that week was exceptionally dry, it had all the ingredients for a forest fire,” he said.
With the hedge-cutting and burning closed period now over, he also appealed to farmers to act responsibly if they are burning vegetation and to adhere to burning guidelines.