Galway forest fires brought under control

With stable weather conditions and the promise of rain on Saturday, it is hoped the fire can be kept under control

Galway forest fires brought under control

The Air Corps deployed two aircraft, the EC135 and AW139 helicopter during fire fighting operations today and yesterday.. Image: Air Corps/RollingNews

The huge forest fires that have been raging in Galway over the past number of days appear to have been brought under control.

In a statement this morning, forestry agency Coillte said the blaze has been “suppressed after good progress was made yesterday evening to bring the situation under management.”

It is estimated that 3,500 hectares of forest and bog land have been destroyed in the Cloosh Valley, home to one the largest forests in the country.

The Air Corps has dropped more than 158,000 litres of water over the valley in the past 48 hours.

Coillte said staff and army personnel will remain on-site throughout the day to monitor hot-spots as “there is still some risk that fires could reignite.”

“With stable weather conditions and the forecast of rain on Saturday evening, it is hoped that there will no further resurgence of the fire,” the agency said in the statement. “A civil helicopter will also remain on standby today should it be needed.”

Air quality

This morning, the Health Service Executive (HSE) issued a warning to members of the public to avoid spending time outdoors – with ash and smoke expected to affect air quality in the area surrounding the valley.

Yeterday, NUI Galway warned that the fires were causing major air pollution – with a change of wind direction leaving Galway City engulfed in smoke for several hours yesterday evening.

Young children, pregnant women, smokers, the elderly and people with heart or lung conditions are most vulnerable.

The advice is to stay indoors in affected areas, close windows and doors, avoid smoking, keep windows and vents in cars closed and if you're asthmatic - keep your treatment inhaler with you.

Yesterday NASA released images of Ireland taken from space which clearly show some of the gorse fires burning around the country.

Image: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/Goddard, 10-05-2017

NASA said the actively burning areas - detected by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite - are outlined in red.

Both the HSE and Coillte have warned members of the public not to go near any of the wildfires - especially if they are smouldering.

Inspection works will take place throughout the day today on areas of the Cloosh Valley site that were affected by the fire - and these remain restricted areas. 

Coillte has expressed its appreciation for the hard work of staff, volunteers, emergency services, and defence forces in combating the fires over the past few days.