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Wildfire warning issued to Limerick landowners

Limerick Fire & Rescue Service has launched an awareness campaign in relation to the dangers posed by illegal burning and forest, bog and gorse fires.

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April 2, 2013 (FPRC) -- The Fire Service has issued the warning following serious wildfires in Donegal and Galway during Easter Monday and two years on from Ireland’s worst ever wildfires when thousands of hectares of land were destroyed across much of the country.

The highest risk period for wildfires occurs between March and June, when ground vegetation is dead and dry following the winter period.

“The current dry spell of weather will do little to reduce this risk although we are hopeful of some respite by the weekend,” explained Paul McMahon, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer.

Mr. McMahon continued: “We would like to remind landowners across Limerick that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn growing vegetation between 1 March and 31 August in any year, on any land not then cultivated. The sad fact is that if this simple rule was adhered to, many costly and dangerous wildfires would be avoided. On Easter Monday night, for example, there were three separate blazes in Connemara which spread quickly due to the dry vegetation and strong easterly winds which fed the blaze. Meanwhile, an estimated 16,000 hectares were destroyed nationally in 2011 resulting in €20 million in costs and damages.”

Commenting on the issue of backyard and uncontrolled burning, Mr. McMahon said: “Uncontrolled burning can result in loss of life as well as damage to property. It is often mistakenly seen as a cheap method of managing waste and it is presumed not to be harmful to the environment, but nothing could be further from the truth. Controlled burning should follow the procedure of ensuring that any burning is pre-planned and takes place in a controlled fashion. The Fire Service must also be notified through the 999/112 system prior to any burning taking place.”

Fire Service advice in relation to burning:
- Landowners burning gorse, scrub, or vegetation must inform the Fire Service at least one day in advance on 999 or 112 providing details of the location, time and duration of burning.
- In addition, landowners burning within 1 mile of woodland must notify the local Garda Station and woodland owner in writing at least 7 days in advance.
- Where burning is to take place within a Special Area of Conservation or Natural Heritage Area, written consent must be sought in advance from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
- It is illegal to burn household or commercial/industrial waste, household green waste (e.g. hedging), electric cables for the recovery of copper, or to burn waste in bonfires.
- There is a temporary exemption until 1st January 2014 for waste generated by agricultural practices, but efforts must be first made to reduce, reuse, and recycle the waste and burning must only be considered as a final measure. Waste must be untreated and uncontaminated by other waste.

-ENDS-

CONTACT:
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