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A gorse fire at The Hand, in West Clare a couple of years ago.

High risk of wildfires

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Tom Hayes has today reminded forest owners and managers, farmers and members of the public of the need to be alert to the risk of wildfires over the coming weeks.

“In recent years we have experienced a number of major wildfires that destroyed or damaged property, including farmland and forests. These events endanger people’s homes, place enormous strain on the resources of the emergency services and put the lives of rural dwellers and emergency service personnel at considerable risk,” he said.

The minister noted that following dry weather patterns, a wildfire risk can quickly develop in all areas where flammable vegetation such as grasses, gorse and heather are present, especially in proximity to forests and other assets. He has asked land owners, rural dwellers and other land users to maintain a high degree of vigilance regarding fire over the coming months. Suspicious activity should be reported to the gardaí and uncontrolled or unattended fires should be reported immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services.

Minister Hayes asked forest owners to be especially vigilant.

“I would urge 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,” he said.

The minister reminded land owners that under the Wildlife Acts, it is illegal to burn growing vegetation on uncultivated land between March 1 and August 31 and that persons engaged in such illegal activity are liable to prosecution and could face fines, imprisonment and penalties to their Single Farm Payments.

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