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01st Mar 2023

Firefighters battle to keep Cork and Kerry gorse fires under control

Simon Kelly

Gorse fires cork kerry

Multiple fires were lit in advance of the March 1st deadline.

Gorse fires ripped through West Kerry and Cork last weekend as firefighters fought to control the blazes.

Kerry County Council reported an extremely busy few days, with 18 call-outs on Monday, in addition to 33 over the weekend.

A County Council spokesman said:

“Kerry Fire Service and Kerry County Council is reminding the public that from March 1, it is illegal to light such fires for the remainder of the season.”

Video via Seán Mac an tSíthigh.

Fires lit at a special controlled burn location started to spread and there were worries that parts of the National Park would be at risk of the blaze. Killarney fire services had to be called into action to prevent the fire from spreading into the Scots Pines area of the national park.

There were also several gorse and bog fires at Inch beach and Waterville, where the flames threatened nearby homes.

Under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 it is an offence to burn, from March 1 to August 31 in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.

Cork County Council firefighters in West Cork also responded to over 20 fires, mostly in the Mizen and Beara Peninsulas. All six fire brigades from Bantry, Castletownbere, Schull, Skibbereen, Dunmanway and Clonakilty were involved.

Some in government are pushing to ban controlled burns including Anluan Dunne of the Green Party. Dunne says the ban should be put in place on human health and environmental grounds.

Speaking to Radio Kerry he said, “burning hillsides is not the right thing to do” and that alternative ways of farming should be looked at.

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