Gorse fires can spread very quickly
The Department of Agriculture has issued a status orange fire warning in relation to wildfires.
With very dry weather of late, the ground is drier than normal and there is a real danger of gorse fires.
A number of major fires have broken out in the Wicklow area in recent days and there is concern that areas of upland in Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan could also be at risk.
In a Condition Orange warning published on Thursday, the Department said that there was a heightened risk "in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels such as heather and gorse exist."
The warning will remain in place until midday on Monday, April 20.
In relation to the Wicklow incidents, the Department said: "Based on recent fire incidents, most ignition risks appear to be associated with illegal burning of upland vegetation, particularly in areas where active turf cutting is taking place.”
Additionally, the warning noted that anyone visiting forests or recreational sites should be mindful of social distancing laws restricting non-essential journeys to within a 2km radius of one's home.
The Department has shared advice for the public at large on how to avoid danger from fires.
- Do not light fires in and around forests or open land.
- Do not attempt to intervene or fight fires under any circumstances.
- Gather all family/group members and move to a safe fuel-free location such as a car park, upwind of the fire.
- Telephone Fire and Rescue Services via 112 and report the fire and its location.
- Evacuate if instructed to do so, and cooperate with all Emergency Service instructions.
Meanwhile, householders or building owners in areas susceptible to wildfire are advised to remove or cut back any vegetation in the immediate vicinity of their house, building or oil tank to prevent wildfires damaging or destroying their property.
Landowners and members of the public are reminded that under the Wildlife Act 1976 and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 it is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between March 1 and August 31 in any year.