County struck by worst fire in living memory

By Leonie McKiernan and Philip Rooney

By Leonie McKiernan and Philip Rooney

By Leonie McKiernan and Philip Rooney

IT has been labelled the worst fire in living memory. Taking hold just after 4pm on Sunday afternoon, the blaze near Dromahair in north Leitrim burned for over 36 hours destroying one family home and scorching over 1,000 acres of land.

Up to 40 fire fighters attended the blaze with units from Manorhamilton, Carrick-on-Shannon, Drumshanbo and Ballinamore joined by additional units from Sligo and Dowra. Working in shifts the fire fighters battled to contain the blaze but the dry conditions and strong winds whipped the flames across a wide front in a short period of time.

Local spectators who walked or drove to the scene caused some disruption for firefighters trying to gain access to the fire and gardai eventually closed a number of roads to ensure that the passage of fire trucks was not blocked.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Co Leitrim, Conor Lynch, said the situation as “extreme”. “You could see the fire surging forward and at one stage seven homes were under extreme threat as well as the Water Treatment plant in Moneyduff,” he said.

His colleague, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Noel Reilly said that the fire near Dromahair was “unprecedented”. “I have certainly never experienced a fire so intense. It was moving so quickly we seemed to be battling it on a number of fronts and every time you made progress another fire would start,” he admitted. “We were literally working from 4.30pm on Sunday right through to 3.30am this morning (Tuesday).”

Although the quick actions of the fire fighters prevented loss of life, a home belonging to a retired local woman fell victim to the blaze. The house, built only three years ago near the North Leitrim Water Treatment plant, was completely gutted in the fire. It is believed that the intense heat of the flames melted the oil tank located near the house, causing an explosion and setting the home on fire.

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.

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