Fire service ‘praying for rain’ to end spate of outbreaks

By Dara Bradley

Galway’s fire service is ‘praying for rain’ to get respite from the gorse, grass and bog fires that have blazed across the county and city for nearly a fortnight.

The fire brigade in Galway and Clifden have been working round the clock battling fires all over Galway, which are mainly concentrated in Connemara and west of the city.

A spokesperson for the local fire services confirmed to the Sentinel that several units of the fire brigade battled 26 blazes on Friday, 30 on Saturday and a further 17 fires on Sunday.

That brings to over 140 fires the service has had to deal with since Good Friday.

The gorse, grass and boglands’ fires were at Clifden, Corrandulla, Moycullen Rosscahil, Cleggan, Headford, Gort, Ballinasloe, and Tuam and other parts of the county.

The fire service confirmed it responded to outbreaks of grass fires in the city as well, including on the Headford Road, Terryland and near GMIT on the Dublin Road.

The spokesperson said that this latest epidemic of gorse fires started on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, which is two weekends’ ago, and there is no sign of any let-up.

“The last time we had a run of fires like this is 2010. It’s harder with that wind. At first there was a bit of a breeze but now the wind is much stronger and it’s still very dry . . . we are praying for rain to be honest with you, it’s supposed to come Wednesday and hopefully it will. We could do with the break,” he said.

The fire services have been working round the clock, with the 36 full-time fire fighters on rotation and the dozen retained fire fighters getting called in, in rotation, too.

The fire services in Mayo had been coming to the aid of Clifden fire services but they now have fires of their own to deal with in Mayo and so the Galway city units are being dispatched to Connemara as well.

So far, there has been no report of damage to property but there have been a few ‘close calls’ when the flames came dangerously close to homes in some areas. Some homes were evacuated as a precaution.

The authorities suspect some of the fires have been started deliberately – Galway Gardaí say all fires are being investigated and prosecutions will arise where criminality is proven.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel