Efforts to fight Galway forest fire continue but extensive damage already caused

Thousands of acres of forest, moorland, and wildlife at ‘major risk of destruction’

Helicopters, the fire brigade, and the Air-Corps, are being deployed to fight the massive fire at Cloosh Valley forest, near Oughterard, that is threatening thousands of acres of forest, moorland and wildlife, having already caused extensive damage.

Two helicopters have been operating over the site since Sunday, and are using 1,200 litre capacity 'bambi buckets' to drop water to counter the flames. Fire service personnel from around Galway county are working to contain the situation on the ground, assisted by Coillte staff. The Air-Corps, which provided air support at other fire incidents over the weekend, has also been called in to assist.

Coillte has warned that thousands of acres of forest, moorland and wildlife are now at “major risk of destruction” as the fire excalated out of control on Monday. A quarter of the forest’s 4,000 hectare area has already been lost to the fire - or rather 30 individual fires which together are causing the extensive damage. The fire also threatens Galway Wind Park, where the Republic’s biggest wind farm is currently under construction, with two of the 24 turbines erected on the site so far. While the exact cause of the fire is not yet known,

Coillte have speculated the fires were started either maliciously or in an ill-judged attempt to clear vegetation. Under the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to set fires to growing vegetation from March 1 to August 31 and those found responsible for “deliberately starting fires can be prosecuted. Recent dry and windy weather has greatly increased the risk of gorse and forest fire, but deliberate fire setting has also been a significant factor in the cause of many of the fires on Coillte property around the State.

Coillte are asking the public to report any suspicious activity regarding the setting of fires to the Garda Síochána.

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