High risk of forest fires over the weekend
Recent weather conditions have increased the risk of fire to an orange status. Areas where fuel sources are close to forests are considered to be particularly at risk.
These conditions are expected to become more severe over coming days, with expected risk levels forecast to peak on Monday, 24 April. During the forecast period there is a strong possibility of returning continental airflows that may induce further, higher-risk levels in Southern Coastal areas of Ireland.
Pending significant rainfall, this risk condition will remain in place until midday on 25 April, unless otherwise stated by the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture.
Advice to forest owners and managers
Recent weeks have seen significant fire activity and losses in forestry. Fire lines, fire plans and fire suppression equipment should be reviewed and made ready, and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, helicopter contracts, etc, checked and confirmed.
Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users are asked to be extremely vigilant regarding fire activity, to report any suspicious or illegal activity to the gardai and to report all fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999.
Is there a risk of fire or presence of hazardous fuel vegetation on neighbouring lands? Is there a history of land burning in the vicinity of your forest? Are access routes adequate, accessible and clear of obstructions? Is there a fire break in place and has it been adequately maintained?
Fire plans should be developed for all forests. Have fire-fighting tools, such as beaters and knapsack sprayers, to hand and ready to use.
Clear tracks and roads, if available, and ensure forest entrances and access routes are not blocked by parked vehicles or other obstacles, especially where visitors or recreational users may be present.
Forest owners should cooperate with fire planning and share the burden of fire patrols and vigilance during high-risk periods.
It is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between 1 March and 31 August in any year. Landowners wishing to carry out legally-permitted, prescribed burning must notify in writing all forest owners within one mile of the wood, and the local garda station between seven and 35 days in advance of the burning operation.
If you see a fire, report it to the Fire and Emergency Services straight away. Do not wait for somebody else to make the call. Dial 999 or 112.
You will not be billed by the fire service or local authority for making the call. Give clear details as regards location, where at all possible using a national grid reference, and any other useful information, such as the size of the fire, wind direction, proximity to dwellings or forestry, etc.
If your forest is damaged or destroyed, report this loss as soon as possible to your local garda station and to the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine at Johnstown Castle Estate, Co Wexford.
For more information visit: http://agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/