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DOYLE VIEWS FIRE DAMAGE AT CLOOSH VALLEY

Andrew Doyle T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry today visited the site of the recent wildfire in Cloosh Valley, Co. Galway, to see first-hand the extent of the damage and to meet the personnel involved in the fire-fighting effort.

An extensive wildfire raged in Cloosh Valley from the weekend of 6th May 2017 until it was eventually brought under control on Thursday 11th May 2017, resulting in the estimated loss of some 1,500 hectares of forestry and 1,000 hectares of bogland.

Commenting on the damage, Minister Doyle said “I am appalled at the devastation here caused by last week’s wildfire. Two weeks ago, this was a green, vibrant forest environment but it is now totally destroyed” and added “Fire poses a serious risk to life, homes, and property. Forestry and wildlife habitats are also destroyed as is particularly evident here today.  I understand that, while a wildfire risk can quickly develop following dry weather patterns in all areas where flammable vegetation such as grasses, gorse and heather are present, especially in proximity to forests and other assets, most fires may have been started deliberately. To set a fire at this time of the year is not only illegal but also totally irresponsible.

The Minister of State was referring to the fact that it is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Act, 2000) to burn, from 1st March to 31st August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated. Individuals who are found to burn vegetation within that prohibited period are liable to prosecution by An Garda Síochána or by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

During his visit, Minister of State Doyle thanked all those who were involved in the fire fighting and control efforts, including Coillte and its staff, the Galway Fire Services, the Air Corps, An Garda Síochána and all of the volunteers.  While thanking them, the Minister of State added, “As I am conscious that this involved a huge effort by a lot of people, I am wary about omitting anyone so I would like to thank all those involved over the duration of the fires. I also note that Coillte has put on record its appreciation for the tremendous assistance it received from volunteers and the fire services, whose lives were put at significant risk in combating these forest fires.”

Noting that there were a number of wildfires at various locations throughout the country, including Mayo and Sligo, the Minister of State said, “Such fires can cause enormous damage and result in huge costs – including loss of property, in the case of forests there is the loss of the crop and the reconstitution costs, and there are also the costs incurred in fighting fires.  It is also impossible to quantify the cost of disruption to normal emergency services (including Garda Síochána) operations, and the impact of diverting these vital services away from other serious emergency calls. Deliberate or uncontrolled fires also destroy habitats, wildlife, farm land, farm structures and threaten homes and lives. It behoves us all to act responsibly. I urge all forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users to be vigilant to the threat of fire, to report any suspicious activity to An Garda Síochána, and to report any uncontrolled or unattended fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999 service.”

The Department advises all forest owners and forest managers to check their fire plans and to ensure that fire-breaks are clear of flammable vegetation and forest access routes are clear of obstructions. The Department also warns landowners that land found to have been burned during the specified closed season for burning would be considered automatically ineligible under the various support schemes, and that a variety of detection systems, including satellite based systems, were now in place to detect fire hotspots and trigger more detailed eligibility inspections where required.

To view this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 85/2017 (pdf 447Kb) 

Added 16.05.17

Andrew Doyle T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry today visited the site of the recent wildfire in Cloosh Valley, Co. Galway, to see first-hand the extent of the damage and to meet the personnel involved in the fire-fighting effort. Pictured with L-R Mark Carlin, Director of Operations Coillte, & Frank Flanagan,  Forest Manager, Coillte 

 

Date Released: 16 May 2017

Distribution channels: Agriculture, Farming & Forestry