The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a ‘Condition Orange’ fire notice – indicating high risk – due to the current dry spell and warm temperatures.

The notice came into effect yesterday (Tuesday, April 13) and will remain in place until next Monday (April 19) at 12:00pm.

The notice arises from current high-pressure weather patterns.

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

Based on recent fire activity, ignition risks appear to be mainly focused on areas with public access, particularly peatland sites, the department notes.

It also points out that, with the relaxation of some Covid-19 travel restrictions, higher visitor activity at recreational sites can be expected.

“Members of the public intending to visit forests and other recreational sites are reminded to adhere to regulations introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19,” the notice says.

“Vehicles must not be parked at site entrances or impede emergency service access to forest roads. Visitors should not use barbeques or open fires at any stage.”

The notice warns that fire behaviour is likely to be influenced by lower afternoon humidity levels (<60%) and elevated wind speeds in western areas during the lifespan of the warning.

There is potential for wind speeds to exceed the critical 30kph threshold in southwestern areas and this will significantly increase suppression requirements where it occurs.

All forest owners and managers are again advised to prepare for likely outbreaks of fire.

Fire lines, fire plans and suppression equipment should be reviewed and made ready and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, helicopter contracts etc., should be checked and confirmed.

“The need for increased vigilance at this time cannot be overstated. Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users are asked to be extremely vigilant regarding fire activity; to report any suspicious or illegal activity to the Gardaí; and to report all fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999,” the notice advises.