herald

Saturday 21 September 2019

Scorching hot easter sparks gorse fires

A large gorse fire in Co Donegal. Photo: Evelyn Sweeney/PA Wire
A large gorse fire in Co Donegal. Photo: Evelyn Sweeney/PA Wire

It wasn't the hottest Easter on record - but we do still have one more day of sunshine to look forward to.

The late Easter weekend this year meant that sun-seekers saw the mercury soar to a toasty 22.9C at Oak Park in Co Carlow on Saturday.

In the capital, temperatures hit 22.1C in the Phoenix Park as locals and tourists alike soaked up the rays.

However, the temperatures did not break records, with April 1984 still topping the list of hottest-ever Easter weekends when it tipped 25.8C in Glenties, Co Donegal.

Dry

And we have one more day of sunshine before temperatures return to normal, as today will continue to be warm and sunny.

Martin and Cillian Wallace with Belle and Thor at Bunratty Castle. Photo: Eamon Ward
Martin and Cillian Wallace with Belle and Thor at Bunratty Castle. Photo: Eamon Ward

Met Eireann forecaster Joanna Donnelly said temperatures will be between 20- 22C.

However, it will be a little chillier in the south of the country as mist and fog will cause temperatures to drop to between 16-18C.

The weather will become cooler tomorrow as a low-pressure system nudges out the high pressure that has kept the country warm and dry.

Showery rain will move up from the south leading to a dip in temperatures, with daytime highs of just 10C-13C.

"It will be very unstable by midweek, especially on Thursday, when we could get some heavy downpours and thunder," a forecaster said.

Meanwhile, firefighters and locals in Co Donegal fear further dry weather will spark more gorse fires, which scorched hundreds of acres of land and threatened local homes and a hotel.

Up to 15 fire tenders, supported by the army, the air corps and hundreds of locals battled from 6am yesterday when the blaze started in the village of Annagry.

The fire quickly spread to the neighbouring villages of Loughanure and Belcruit and towards Dungloe.

At one stage, a fire crew became surrounded by the flames in Belcruit and had to wait for support from a helicopter which doused the area with water allowing them to get out.

Unbelievable

There is still no indication how the latest fires started, although the dry weather is believed to be a factor.

But at the height of yesterday's fires - which were burning out of control directly behind several houses and the Caisleain Oir hotel in Annagry - local county councillor Michael Mac Giolla Easbuig described the situation as harrowing.

"There are fires everywhere. There are hundreds of people on site. It's unbelievable. We're waiting for the army but there's property being damaged. We are talking about a vast, vast area," he told the Herald.

By last night the fires were said to be under control, although hot spots remained.

Meanwhile, fire crews from Scarriff and Killaloe, Co Clare, battled a large bog and forest fire burning on a mountain in the east of the county early yesterday, after battling fires at Flagmount on Saturday and Sunday, which may have been intentionally set.

A large fire that could be seen from Co Tipperary was burning on a mountain at Woodfield on Sunday night. Fire crews battled the blazes throughout the night and into yesterday morning, hampered by strong winds and gusts.

A nationwide Condition Orange - high fire risk - warning remains in place until midday today.

There have been no reports of injury following the blazes.

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