The warm weather over the weekend prompted the Department of Agriculture to issue a Condition Orange Fire Warning.
The warning – despite some predicted rainfall – remains in effect until Tuesday, April 14th and it came with an additional warning that any caught lighting illegal gorse or hill fires would be liable for prosecution under the Wildlife Acts.
A spokesperson for the department told The Southern Star that such fires are ‘particularly reckless at a time when our emergency services are tackling the Covid-19 situation.’
The National Parks and Wildlife Service, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, also asked members of the public to be mindful of the danger that fires on open ground can cause.
Despite the fact that it is now the ‘closed season’ for the setting of fires to clear waste land of scrub or excess vegetation, some landowners persist in lighting such fires during a dry spell.
A spokesperson for the service said Ireland is fortunate that wildfires – like those that caused so much devastation in Australia – are not a natural phenomenon in Ireland.
The main cause of such fires is, according to the wildlife service, through the deliberate starting of fires without concern for the consequences, and even ‘planned or controlled’ burning can get out of hand very quickly.
Such fires, the spokesperson added, can result in serious damage to property, the country’s natural heritage, threaten peoples’ lives and property, and put the fire brigade and other emergency services under undue pressure.