Condition Orange forest fire alert in place until Tuesday

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a Condition Orange forest fire alert for the weekend, due to an expected spell of warm weather.

The Condition Orange warning indicates ‘high fire risk’. The warning came into effect today, Thursday, April 9, at 12:00pm, and will remain in effect until the same time on Tuesday, April 14.

A high fire risk is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels, such as heather and gorse, exist.

According to the department, most ignition risks appear to be associated with illegal burning of upland vegetation. Additional caution is also required in areas where active turf cutting is taking place.

Farmers are being urged to be vigilant over the coming weekend.

Vincent Nally, the farm forestry chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said: “Most fires spread from adjoining land into the forest. It’s important that farmers assess the risk to their forest and make sure that their firebreaks are maintained.

“A firebreak should consist of a six-metre wide fuel-free zone, typically around the boundary of the forest,” Nally explained.

He encouraged farmers to review their fire plan for their forest, or to prepare a fire plan, especially if the forest is located in a high-risk area.

“Forest fires have caused significant financial losses for farmers in recent years, with years of growth and timber production lost in a single incident,” Nally stressed.

He added: “It’s so important that farmers consider the financial consequences of a fire and make sure they have adequate insurance cover as, under the Afforestation Scheme, farmers are obligated to replant when a forest is damaged by fire.”

The IFA farm forestry chairperson encouraged those who come across a fire to not delay in calling the emergency services on 999 or 112.