Residents flee from forestfire
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.