Seven homes saved from gorse fire near Ballygarrett
North Wexford fire services have been praised for saving seven houses from destruction in a massive gorse fire at Old Bawn, Ballygarrett, on Tuesday afternoon.
'There are a lot of very relieved families,' said Cllr Pip Breen who witnessed the emergency operation. 'The diligence and selfless commitment of the fire crews saved those houses. At times, the smoke was so dense, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. The crews were very courageous and a very very big well done to them.'
He said it was one of the biggest gorse fires in the area in recent years, stretching from the Newtown Road to Ballinoulart.
It's thought that a lot of nesting burrows were destroyed and wildlife were killed in the blaze which was reported at around 3 p.m.
Two tenders from Gorey Fire Brigade initially responded, and immediately had to work to save a holiday home in the dunes which had its fascia and soffit burnt off. 'You can see that everything around the house is burnt,' said Cllr Breen.
A total of seven houses in the area had to be protected from the intense heat.
An additional fire unit and water tanker was called to the scene from Bunclody and an additional water tanker was brought in from Gorey to help in the operation which lasted until 9.30 p.m.
The flames were fanned by a strong wind which blew the fire in the direction of Cahore Caravan Park, and residents were advised to close all windows and doors to protect them from the smoke. Fortunately, the park wasn't under threat during the blaze.
A large area of the sea front was burnt in the fire. Assistant Chief Fire Officer Ray Murphy said that gorse fires are an issue each year when the weather improves. He urged the public to be careful when discarding cigarette butts, and glass and plastic bottles. He also advised people not to light camp fires in areas of gorse.
The cause of the Old Bawn blaze has not been established.
Most of the houses saved were family homes. 'One of them was a brand new house finished less than a month ago,' said Cllr Breen. 'Some of the houses were engulfed in smoke for the afternoon. We're lucky this didn't happen a month later when it was a lot drier, but we'd had 18 days without rain at that stage.'