Firefighters tackle huge fire in Slieve Blooms

Justin Kelly and Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Justin Kelly and Lynda Kiernan

Firefighters tackle huge fire in Slieve Blooms

Fire crews tackled a large fire in the Slieve Bloom mountains on the Laois-Offaly border on Sunday March 7.

Crews from Mountrath, Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Rathdowney stations spent the Sunday dealing with a large fire on Conlawn Hill near Ballyfin on the Laois side of the mountains.

See more photographs of the fire here. 

"Despite the early time of year, weather conditions today meant extremely rapid fire spread rates," the Laois Fire Service said.

Below: Laois fire crews fighting the fire. 

"The legal season for burning of vegetation has ended."

An Garda Siochána and National Parks & Wildlife Service will be investigating the source of Sunday’s fire.

Laois Offaly Wildlife Trust has urged people to report illegal fires immediately.

"Uncontrolled and illegal fires are now an annual occurance in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. These fires are illegal when set within the closed grubbing and burning season/bird nesting season. They are harmful to wildlife, destroy habitats and are a risk to human life. The Slieve Blooms are a stronghold for breeding Hen Harriers and Red Grouse two of Ireland's rarest breeding upland birds. Both these species are extremely vulnerable at the best of times without the extra risk created by these illegal fires. Please report illegal fires to the National Parks and Wildlife Service or the Gardai. Call 999 immediately if you see large plumes of smoke on the mountains in the coming weeks and don't assume somebody else has called the fire in."

Below: This dramatic photo of the fire was taken by Jim Osborne.