A Beaufort farmer is concerned that the recent spate of gorse fires in Mid-Kerry could be malicious because farmers would not normally be burning land late at night.
Michael McSweeney, of Glencuttane Upper, Beaufort, discovered a fire on his land in the early hours of Monday morning. Parts of his property including fencing were damaged and he feared for his cattle and newborn calves.
Firefighters from Killarney and Killorglin rushed to the scene in the early hours of Easter Monday morning, and returned later that day as some of the scrubland was still smouldering.
Michael is now calling for more cooperation between neighbouring farmers in an effort to prevent a Donegal style “inferno” after homes in that county were burned down over the weekend.
He said it would be very unusual for a farmer to be lighting fires so late at night.
“Sheep farmers can’t function with the burning of lands,” he said. “Who would go burning land so late at night? This would be done in daylight when you are more aware of your surroundings. I would like to think that my neighbours would come and see me if they were going burning; it would give me time to move cattle and I would be there to keep an eye if things started to go wrong. I would expect farmers to notify the fire department too if they are burning lands, so when you look at it this way you come to the conclusion that it might be malicious, but I can’t say that without actually seeing it with my own two eyes.”
A separate fire also resulted in a portion of the Board of Works road near Glencar being closed for a number of hours on Monday due to dense smoke.
“The Gardai where there and they were concerned that there were a number of cyclists in the area and motorists attempting to drive through the smoke would not see them. Or the motorist would not see the road and we would be dealing with a road traffic accident then,” Michael Flynn, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for the county, said.
On Easter Monday alone, Kerry County Fire Service attended 19 separate incidents, 14 of which were wild fires as well as routine incidents like road traffic accidents and a reported gas leak.
“The thing with these wildfires is that they have an impact on rural communities and put people’s homes at risk. And they are diverting us away from what we really should be doing.”