Fires services in a number of counties were called to upland areas over the weekend to bring gorse fires under control.
In Wicklow, fire crews responded to a fire that spread across Scarr mountain above Lough Dan on Sunday night 7 March.
— Wicklow Fire Service (@FireWicklow) March 7, 2021
Firefigthers from Greystones, Rathdrum and Tinahely spent several hours bringing the flames under control before withdrawing at 10.30pm. The Irish Air Corps also assisted in the operation.
Fire crews from #Greystones and #RATHDRUM withdrew from Scar Mountain at 10.30 pm, #Tinahely firefighters remained to monitor the scene through the night. great job to extinguish such a large fire at night, thanks for support of @gardainfo @coilltenews @npwsBioData and @WicklowCD pic.twitter.com/Z4luwkGZ07— Wicklow Fire Service (@FireWicklow) March 8, 2021
Earlier on the same day, Laois County Fire and Rescue Service reported a large gorse fire on Conlawn Hill near Ballyfin.
Crews from Mountrath, Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Rathdowney stations were called to the scene to bring the blaze under control. Despite the early time of year, weather conditions meant there were extremely rapid fire spread rates.
Gardaí and National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) will be investigating the source of the fire.
The legal season for burning vegetation ended on 28 February.
It is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Act 2000) to burn from 1 March to 31 August in any year any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
Gorse will burn readily in all seasons and although fires occur throughout the year, the risk is greatest during dry spells from March to June when ground vegetation is dormant and dry.
Last week, the Department of Agriculture warned farmers about the consequences of burning land illegally.
Such land is not eligible for CAP payments and where it is identified that lands were burnt during the closed season, it may result in a Department inspection. There is also a risk of prosecution.