The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has extended a ‘condition orange’ forest fire warning until Friday (April 1, 2022).

Over the weekend, it took emergency services over 16 hours to extinguish a significant gorse fire on the border of counties Carlow and Wexford.

Carlow County Fire and Rescue Service said that the blaze in the Slieve Bawn area of Mount Leinster was “one of the most challenging fires” it has dealt with in many years.

The blaze, which started around 9:00p.m on Saturday (March 26), was among multiple fires in the area that had to be extinguished by emergency crews since last Wednesday (March 23).

Meanwhile, Kerry Fire and Rescue Service attended 15 fires in gorse, bogs and hillsides over the weekend.

The fire services have warned that such blazes place a “tremendous strain” on resources.

DAFM fire warning

DAFM outlined that due to the continued high pressure dominating our weather patterns, a high fire-risk is deemed to exist anywhere there are “hazardous fuels”.

This includes “dead grasses and shrub fuels such as heather and gorse”.

DAFM noted that “significant fire activity has been observed in recent days”.

“Current ignition risks appear to be strongly associated with burning of vegetation on areas used for turf cutting with additional upland burning also observed,” a spokesperson added.

The department said that although there is some rainfall forecast for the coming days, it may not reach all areas and have a significant impact on fuels.

Pending significant rainfall, DAFM said that the warning would remain in place until midday on Friday.

As a result of the warning, the department is advising all forest owners and managers to prepare for “likely outbreaks of fire”. It has also urged everyone, including farmers and rural dwellers, to remain vigilant and report any incidents to emergency services.

Meanwhile, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett has defended her decision to post a video on her Twitter account over the weekend appearing to show bushes being burned on farmland.

Although the minister noted that the practice is legal, she said it was “not acceptable” when her department had issued a high-risk fire warning last Friday (March 25).

Minister Hackett also observed that the bird nesting season is underway.