Res­i­dents flee from forest­fire

May 2003

Bray People - - NEWS -

A fe­ro­cious for­est fire raged over the Easter week­end and forced the eva­cu­ta­tion of sev­eral homes, trans­form­ing the Wick­low Moun­tains into a scene re­sem­bling ‘ the gate­way to hell’ ac­cord­ing to eye wit­nesses.

The flames, fanned by a strong north east­erly wind, spread rapidly and raged for more than 48 hours.

Iso­lated houses had to be evac­u­ated, and at one point there were fears that homes in Lacken, Manor Kil­bride and Bal­ly­knocken could be un­der threat.

The mas­sive in­ferno, which in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve was started de­lib­er­ately, spread over as much as seven miles of land at a time.

It was fought by units of the fire bri­gade from Bless­ing­ton, Dunlavin and Rath­drum; the gar­daí; the army; the Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice and Coillte.

Water car­ry­ing he­li­copters were also de­ployed to try to quench the flames from the air.

Gar­daí closed the Sally Gap, af­ter ‘sight see­ing’ mo­torists be­gan to ap­pear to watch the blaze, and clog a vi­tal artery for the emer­gency ser­vices to and from the blaze.

Bless­ing­ton Sergeant Patsy Glen­non says it is dif­fi­cult to know how the blaze started.

‘ Thank­fully no lives were lost but a lot of dam­age was done. It was spec­tac­u­lar with seven miles of fire run­ning up the hills on both sides of the road as we looked down to­wards Manor Kil­bride,’ he re­calls.

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