A huge gorse fire in Galway has destroyed more than a third of Ireland’s largest forest.
Ireland’s Air Corps, the Army and the country’s national forestry agency Coillte spent much of Wednesday dousing the Cloosh Valley with thousands of litres of water but say it still could be days before the fire is fully extinguished.
VIDEO: Some of the dramatic scenes in Cloosh Valley in Galway during efforts to contain out of control fire pic.twitter.com/SLSZv7zDQH
— Fergal O'Brien TV3 (@FergalOBrienTV3) May 9, 2017
The fire, which started last week, and which officials believe was started deliberately, has thus far destroyed over 1,500 hectares of forestry and 2,000 hectares of bogland – more than five times the area of The Phoenix Park in Dublin.
Coillte’s Managing Director Gerard Murphy said that it will take several more days before the agency can be satisfied that the threat has passed.
Coillte said in a press statement: “The major fire incident in Cloosh Valley, Co. Galway is ongoing.
Dramatic scenes in the Cloosh Valley in Galway – fire crews battle blaze. Pic by Mel Mullarkey pic.twitter.com/f65JK8qJ0s
— Declan Varley (@declanvarley) May 9, 2017
“A regional emergency response operation is now in place as Coillte staff, along with Galway Fire Service and the Air-Corps battle to fight the fire.
“Coillte staff and fire services have been on site since 5.30am and civilian and army corps helicopters have been carrying out water drops since early this morning.
“Army personnel have been mobilised to assist in brashing, as the focus of this morning’s activity is to control the fires on a number of fronts including fire events in the proximity of the 169MW Galway Wind Park construction site.
“Coillte are urging the public stay away from any areas affected by these fires and to immediately report any uncontrolled or unattended fires to the Fire and Emergency Services.
“Over 1,500 hectares of forestry and 2,000 hectares of bog land have been destroyed in the fire to date.
“Coillte greatly appreciate the tremendous assistance it continues to receive from the defence forces and emergency services.
“While the cause of the fire at Cloosh Valley has yet to be definitively established, it is believed that the fire originated from deliberately set gorse fires, which subsequently spread onto Coillte owned forestry and the Galway Wind Park site.
“Under the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to set fires to growing vegetation from 1st March to 31st August and those found responsible for deliberately starting fires can be prosecuted.”