Slieve Bloom fire out and firefighters 'safe and sound'

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

Slieve Bloom fire extinguished and firefighters 'safe and sound'

Picture by Offaly Fire and Rescue Service.

The huge fire in the Slieve Bloom Mountains which burned for almost two days was successfully extinguished on Thursday evening as the last of the firefighters left the scene.

Laois and Offaly Fire services, Coillte, Irish Defence Forces, Air Corps and others worked to battle the blaze which started around Wednesday afternoon.

WATCH: Incredible aerial video shows true extent of fire in Slieve Blooms.

Offaly Fire Services confirmed on Thursday that they were tackling the 'biggest wildfire in the country' at the time. Laois crews from Mountmellick and Mountrath assisted with the fire. 

On Thursday evening the fire service shared a picture of the last two firefighters leaving the scene after many hours of work tackling the fire. It said that all workers were home 'safe and sound' See below.

In a Facebook post, the Slieve Bloom Association said that helicopter water drops continued on Thursday night with just smouldering remaining.

“The Slieve Bloom Association sincerely wishes to thank Laois County Fire and Rescue Service, Offaly Fire and Rescue Service, the Air Corps, Coillte and members of the Defence Forces for going above and beyond to contain the significant blaze which engulfed parts of the mountains since yesterday afternoon.

“Helicopter water drops continued on the mountain tonight but the worst of the fire is over with mainly smouldering remaining.

“Please be vigilant and don't light a flame near dry vegetation.”

The Kinnitty to Mountrath road has reopened. Smoke from the fire caused poor visibility on parts of the M7 motorway in Laois on Thursday morning. It is understood that up to 250 acres of land was damaged in the fire.

An extreme red alert remains in place for forest fires as temperatures are set to remain in the mid to high twenties for the weekend with little or no rainfall. People are asked to be careful where they put cigarette butts and to be extremely vigilant in areas with dry grass and forestry. 

The Department of Agriculture issued the red alert and advise that all outdoor use of fires, barbeques and other open
ignition sources be avoided on forest lands and in other high risk areas until further notice.

Extreme caution is advised with respect to hay making and the use of machinery and other agricultural activity that may also present a risk of fire in dry vegetation in current conditions.

"There appears to be a strong correlation between fire activity and illegal dumping and other illegal activities on public lands in recent days and an increased vigilance by land managers and landowners is advised.

"Pending a significant change in meteorological conditions this risk condition will remain in place until 12:00pm on Friday, July 6, 2018, and will be reviewed again at that point," was written in a statement by the Deparment.