Firefighters had a busy weekend battling a large gorse fire in Co. Laois – with authorities warning that investigations will be made into the source of the blaze.

The fire broke out on Conlawn Hill, near Ballyfin, yesterday (Sunday, March 7), according to Laois County Fire and Rescue.

Taking to social media, the county’s fire and rescue service posted pictures of its teams battling the blaze.

Image source: Laois County Fire and Rescue

In addition to the photos, Laois County Fire and Rescue said: “Crews from Mountrath, Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Rathdowney stations spent the day dealing with a large fire on Conlawn Hill near Ballyfin today.

Despite the early time of year, weather conditions today meant extremely rapid fire spread rates. The legal season for burning of vegetation has ended.

“An Garda Síochána and National Parks and Wildlife Service will be investigating the source of today’s fire,” the fire service added.

Last week, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine warned the public that the closed season is now in effect for land burning.

The department also reminded farmers of the negative consequences of burning land illegally.

If you burn land after March 1:
  • There is a risk of prosecution;
  • Such land is not eligible for payment under the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes;
  • Inclusion of illegally burnt land in the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme application may result in reduced payment and penalties under this scheme and the other area-based schemes, for example Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme;
  • Illegal burning can also render the land of your neighbours ineligible for payment; and
  • Where it is identified that lands were burnt during the closed season, this may result in such land being inspected by department officials.

The department also reminds farmers that the hedge-cutting season closed as well on March 1, and will remain so until August 31.