Various county councils around the country have appealed to landowners to cease and desist all controlled burning immediately.
This is in order to conserve the resources of emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Liz Canavan of the Department of the Taoiseach has said.
“Last night [Sunday] three units of firefighters in Kerry spent four hours battling a blaze in Killarney National Park. We want to emphasise the current pressure on emergency services across the country and once again appeal to everyone to be mindful of that strain and avoid any further demands on their resources,” she told a Government briefing on coronavirus on Monday.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht has estimated that 150ac of the park has been damaged as a result of the fires.
“Aside from diverting emergency services, it is illegal to burn land at this time and those that do face penalties.
“It’s now prime season for nesting birds, breeding mammals and regeneration of growth and habitats after winter,” the Department has said.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which falls under the remit of the Department of Culture, has appealed to the public “to stop setting gorse fires”.
Cork council warning
Cork County Council has said that since Thursday 26 March, Bantry, Castletownbere, Schull, Skibbereen, Dunmanway, Midleton, Macroom, Mallow and Fermoy fire brigades have all attended various gorse and outdoor fires. Some of these calls required the attendance of multiple brigades.
“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency, Cork county fire service wish to advise all landowners to cease and desist all controlled burning effective immediately.
“Since 1 March, it is illegal for landowners to burn off scrub, vegetation, etc, from the land. These fires can draw important fire brigade resources away from responding to other emergency calls, especially at this current time when our resources may be required elsewhere,” it has said.
The council is now informing all landowners:Controlled burning should not take place under any circumstances.Communications centres will not accept caller details and details of controlled burns at this time.
In terms of advice, the council has advised anyone living in areas that are prone to gorse fires to remove gorse and dead vegetation from around buildings, oil tanks, fences, forestry and poles in order to reduce the risk of losses due to any potential gorse fires that may occur.
“During this current crisis, Cork county fire service would like to reassure you, that should you require the fire service we will as always be ready to attend emergency calls.”
Fires were also battled over the last week in parts of Wicklow, Louth and Galway.
Firefighters battle blazes on Wicklow and Cork uplands
Farmers warned not to illegally burn land