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VIDEO: Air Corps release footage of blazing wildfire

VIDEO: Air Corps release footage of blazing wildfire

Fire fighters are battling 30 fires around the country, including a major fire in Galway is threatening to destroy one of Ireland's largest wind farms, as Coillte and fire fighters tackle the blaze at Cloosh Valley.

Thousands of acres of forest, moorland and wildlife are now at major risk of destruction according to Coillte, as well as Ireland’s largest wind farm, Galway Wind Park, is also located within this forest, and is at close proximity to the fire.

A helicopter has been on site at Cloosh Valley over the past two days working to extinguish the fire, but with the situation escalating this afternoon, the local fire brigade has now been called in to help protect the wind farm and Coillte have also requested support from the Air-Corps.

The head of the fire is estimated to be around 5km and two Air Corps units are helping the fire services on the ground.

"The scale of this fire is frightening," according to Gerard Murphy, Managing Director of Coillte Forest.

The fire is on land of 4,000ha and the damage is running into millions, he said. "A forestry the size of a football pitch is worth about €10,000-15,000."

The fire services are fighting are about 30 fires at the moment around Ireland, he said, in 'high risk' conditions. The cause of these fires, he said, is At best recklessness or at worst it's criminal.

Recent forest fires around the country have resulted in hundreds of hectares of productive commercial forestry being destroyed while one family lost their home in Mayo when the thatched roof caught fire from embers carried on the wind from a wild fire.

These forest fires have also threatened the welfare of many other homes and local communities, as well as causing devastation to vast areas of wildlife habitat. 

“The recent outbreak of fires, particularly across the west and north of the country, has been responsible for the worst damage to Coillte’s estate since 2011. The combined loss of productive timber, together with the cost of replanting the affected areas will result in a multimillion euro bill.”

Under the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to set fires to growing vegetation from March 1 to August 31.

With weather forecasters predicting the current dry conditions to continue for the rest of the week, Coillte is appealing to the public to be extra vigilant towards the dangers of wildfire and be mindful that responsible behaviour, including acting safely and responsibly in rural environments, can significantly reduce the chance of wildfire starting.

Via Farm Ireland