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Gorse fires cause disruption and road closures


JOINT EFFORT Firemen from Ballinrobe and Westport were assisted by local farmers attending the gorse bog fire on the Killawala to Partry Road on Saturday afternoon last. Pic: Conor McKeown

Michael Gallagher

Mayo was ablaze over the weekend as gorse fires raged in a number of locations across the county. The dry weather and stiff breeze created ideal conditions for flames to spread through thick vegetation and local fire brigade personnel worked tirelessly to get them under control.
Road closures were required in many areas to protect vehicles from the flames as gusting winds spread the fire at great speed.
Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna told The Mayo News that a major outbreak between Parke and Pontoon destroyed 500 acres of gorseland on Saturday and threatened a number of dwellings. He urged people to take great care during dry weather and said the danger of fire was always present.
Fire tenders arrived at the Parke blaze just after 4pm on Saturday and found an outbreak that was gaining momentum by the minute. The speed of the fire caught many locals by surprise and it was only the expert reactions of fire service personnel that saved a number of homes from destruction. The fire was eventually brought under control at midnight.
The fire brigade was called to other gorse fires in Killawalla and Swinford over the weekend where road closures were also required to protect vehicles and property.

‘Extremely vigilant’
Superintendent McKenna said there has been no indication as of yet that the fires were started deliberately, but said the gardaí will remain extremely vigilant in the coming days.
He went on to thank the people of Mayo for their co-operation during the most recent lockdown and looked forward to a possible easing of restrictions in the coming weeks.
“The people of Mayo are always very helpful and we have found great compliance on checkpoints throughout Covid. In fairness people have been very understanding despite the frustrations of lockdown and we’re all looking forward to these restrictions lifting a little in the coming weeks and people getting back to something resembling normality,” added Det Supt McKenna. Yesterday evening (Monday), it was confirmed that gorse fires had broken out in the village of Clogher near Ballintubber. Roads were closed in the area as fire services attended the blaze.