Wednesday 19 June 2019

Dunes destroyed in fierce blaze

Mobile homes and houses evacuated

Firefighters dowse the dunes with water as the blaze is brought under control
Firefighters dowse the dunes with water as the blaze is brought under control

Brendan Keane

An extensive area of sand dunes at Curracloe Beach was destroyed by fire at the weekend with nearby mobile homes and houses having to be evacuated, however, thanks to the actions of the emergency services the blaze was contained and no one was injured.

The danger to the Raven Nature Reserve was also contained with Wexford County Chief Fire Officer Paul L'Estrange commenting to this newspaper that the wind direction at the time of the fire was advantageous.

'If it had been blowing the other way it might have moved the fire towards the Raven and that could have led to an even more serious situation,' he said.

The blaze, which broke out on Sunday, spread quickly and caused extensive damage to around 13.5 acres of land.

The alert was raised at around 10.48 a.m. and according to Mr L'Estrange the fire service was mobile nine minutes later and arrived at the scene at 11.12 a.m.

Four appliances attended the scene and further assistance was requested from New Ross Fire Service (at 12.31 p.m.) and Gorey Fire Service (4 p.m.).

A Dynamic Risk Assessment of the scene was undertaken when the fire crews arrived in addition to implementation of a Tactical Mode Plan with the first priority being containment of the blaze.

Mr L'Estrange said slurry tankers were also used to maintain fire breaks and a request was made to evacuate the car park and beach.

The owners of properties bordering the car park, beach and the area on fire were also ordered to evacuate and the access road to the beach was closed.

The local authority's Environment Officer was requested to meet with the Rostered Senior Fire Officer at 1.42 p.m. and Mr L'Estrange was notified about the incident at 3.12 p.m.

'The air corps was ordered [to the scene] at 4.12 p.m.,' said Mr L'Estrange.

The air crew were on-site at 7.19 p.m. and remained at the scene until they were stood down at 9.10 p.m. The Winning Post pub was utilised as a command control centre for the operation and the venue's car park was used by the air crew to land their helicopter.

The air corps drew water from the sea and dropped around 44 cubic metres of water per load on the blaze while local farmers used water from their own supplies to help tackle the emergency services tackle the fire.

The Gardai from Wexford also attended the scene with Inspector Denis Whelan telling this newspaper that eight members were on-site. Members of the Scene of Crime Unit also attended and carried out an investigation of the scene.

'Incidents of fire are always treated seriously,' said Inspector Whelan, who confirmed that the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.

'We are looking into the matter,' he said.

The Gardai made an appeal to members of the public to exercise extreme caution when using fire or barbecues in outdoor areas.

'We would ask people to be extra careful as the grass is like a tinder-box at the moment as it's so dry,' he said.

The Gardai implemented traffic control measures at the scene and also helped with the evacuation of properties.

Insp Whelan said the exact cause of the blaze is not yet known and the investigation is ongoing.

Wexford People

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