Wick­low fires force fam­i­lies to flee homes

Fire­fight­ers bat­tle blaze as fam­i­lies evac­u­ated from their homes

Irish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Liz Farsaci news@dai­ly­mail.ie

FAM­I­LIES in Co. Wick­low were forced to flee homes af­ter a gorse fire broke out on Bray Head, mark­ing the first se­ri­ous evac­u­a­tion of the drought.

Last night the blaze ap­peared to be es­ca­lat­ing to a ‘mon­ster’, ac­cord­ing to one county coun­cil­lor, as the fire bri­gade con­tin­ued to bat­tle it.

Dart ser­vices were sus­pended be­tween Bray and Grey­stones through­out the day due to the fire, which de­stroyed rail­way ca­bles along the train line.

Mean­while, the Ir­ish Air Corps sought to as­sist the Wick­low Fire Ser­vices in putting out the fire but were forced to sus­pend their op­er­a­tion yes­ter­day af­ter­noon due to lo­cal drone users around Bray Head.

Shortly be­fore 5pm, the Ir­ish Air Corps and the Garda is­sued an ap­peal to drone users in the area to de­sist, as they were putting the Air Corps’ AW 139 he­li­copter in se­ri­ous dan­ger.

Wick­low county coun­cil­lor Ni­cola Law­less told the Ir­ish Daily Mail last night that the fire ap­peared to be ‘es­ca­lat­ing to a mon­ster of a fire at this stage – one of the worst ones I’ve seen in a long time at Bray Head’.

With a clear view of the blaze from her home, she said: ‘It’s pretty bad on the Bray side, you can’t see Bray Head at all.

‘Most of Bray Head at this stage looks like it’s en­gulfed in heavy, heavy smoke and a lot of flame.’

Ms Law­less paid trib­ute to the Fire Ser­vices and the Air Corps.

County coun­cil­lor Derek Mitchell con­firmed shortly be­fore 6pm said last night that the fire was still rag­ing. He said the fire ‘was spread over quite a wide area’, and ap­peared to be blow­ing up the south­ern side of the hill, which is a pop­u­lar hill­walk­ing des­ti­na­tion for tourists.

‘This is the near­est fire to any houses so it’s un­usu­ally se­ri­ous,’ Mr Mitchell said. ‘It has also se­ri­ously dam­aged the rail line.’

Sev­eral houses have been evac­u­ated and Mr Mitchell urged ev­ery­one to stay out of the way so emer­gency ser­vices could do their job.

A spokesman for the Garda said he could not con­firm the ex­act num­ber of peo­ple evac­u­ated.

Wick­low Fire Ser­vices con­tin­ued to fight the fire through­out the even­ing as ac­cess re­mained dif­fi­cult and smoke trav­elled down the hill to­wards Bray town.

Ac­cord­ing to the fire ser­vice, the blaze be­gan in front of a tent at about 1am on Fri­day, spread­ing from there. The fire trav­elled from Bray Head down the cliff face to the Dart track be­low, leav­ing de­bris and caus­ing dam­age to tele­coms and sig­nalling ca­bling.

Ir­ish Rail staff were on site last night re­pair­ing the dam­age to ca­bling, while ser­vices re­mained sus­pended. A spokesman said Ir­ish Rail hopes to re­sume ser­vices this morn­ing.

Mean­while, in Co. Cork, two fire­fight­ers were in­jured af­ter re­spond­ing to a fire at a tim­ber plant in Lis­sarda. They were taken to Cork Uni­ver­sity Hospi­tal and treated for mi­nor in­juries.

The alarm was raised in the early hours of yes­ter­day. Nine fire units from Cork city and sur­round­ing ar­eas were able to con­tain the fire, which is un­der­stood to have bro­ken out in the sawmill sec­tion of the Pal­fab plant. The area of the plant in which the blaze oc­curred is now gut­ted.

The De­fence Forces have pro­vided he­li­copter as­sis­tance to fire ser­vices through­out the coun­try as lo­cal ser­vices fight to con­trol wild­fires in re­mote re­gions.

Over the past fort­night, the Air Corps has re­sponded to re­quests in Cork, Lim­er­ick, Of­faly, Wick­low, Dublin and Ar­magh and has dropped more than 620,000 litres, mak­ing ap­prox­i­mately 500 in­di­vid­ual wa­ter drops.

Au­gusta West­land AW139 he­li­copters, equipped with a ‘Bambi’ bucket aerial ca­pa­ble of drop­ping 1200 litres of wa­ter per pass, are be­ing used to fight blazes.

This amount of wa­ter, con­cen­trated in a small ar­eas, makes an im­me­di­ate im­pact on wild­fires.

‘It’s es­ca­lat­ing to a mon­ster of a fire’

Bray Head ablaze: Res­cue ser­vices spray wa­ter at the fire but flames burn close to house, inset

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