Cost of massive forest blaze is still not known

The blaze at Cloosh Valley last May.
The blaze at Cloosh Valley last May.

The exact cost of the ‘multi-million euro’ fire which destroyed Cloosh Valley near Oughterard last May, burning 3,000 acres of forest and 5,000 acres of bog over four days, has still not been collated.

The blaze spread across three separate fronts, an eight kilometre-long bogland fire, two kilometres of tree crown fires and a thicket fire. It escalated after high winds and warm temperatures combined to fuel the flames in what has been described as the largest ever fire on State forestry lands. It decimated a third of the Coillte forest, which had been the biggest in the country.

It took 35 Coillte staff and contractors, three helicopters, two fire service tenders and 30 Defence Forces personnel four days to bring it under control.

In answer to a parliamentary question, Deputy Michael Creed told Galway West TD Catherine Connolly that Coillte are still conducting a full inventory on the area of its lands affected by the fire.

Initial estimates are that more than 1,200 hectares of forest lands and an additional 2,000 hectares of bog lands were burnt.

Some of the trees destroyed had been growing for 40 years.

The results of the full inventory are likely to be available in the next few weeks, the Cork North West TD said.

“Evaluation of the costs involved is similarly ongoing. This evaluation will include the costs of fighting the fire itself to bring it under control, the costs of clean up and additional cultivation requirements and the loss of the value of the standing timber.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.