Minister Kehoe praises emergency services
Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe has commended the heroic actions of emergency services and local farmers in helping to save lives following one of the worst dune fires ever experienced in Curracloe.
'There is no doubt that were it not for for the quick and efficient work of Wexford Fire Service that we would have been talking about fatalities', said Minister Kehoe who visited the scene of the blaze at 5pm on Sunday as a car park was being cleared for the arrival of an Air Corps helicopter to drop large quantities of water from the air onto the centre of the fire which was difficult to reach in places.
'When I arrived, the area was scorched and totally black with intermittent flames on some parts of the dunes' said Deputy Kehoe who praised the fire service, members of An Garda Siochana, the Civil Defence, the Air Corps and four Wexford farmers Michael Cloney, Noel, Cullen, John Lacey and Tommy Harding who used slurry tanks to spray water onto the flames and on to the edge of the road to prevent the fire reaching across to houses and mobile homes situated just yards away. 'I spoke to the Chief Fire Officer Paul L'Estrange at about 3pm and they were getting it under control at that stage but there was difficulty getting into the centre of the dunes and they asked the Air Corps for assistance'.
A helicopter arrived at 7pm and used a large bucket to carry water from the sea to douse the fire. Approximately 45,000 litres of water were used in the two-hour operation which finished at about 9.15pm. Minister Kehoe said gardai used loudhailers to evacuate the beach and the car park as soon as the alarm was raised.
'There were 800 to 1,000 people in the area between the beach and the main car park at the time of the fire'.
Commending those involved in the fire-fighting operation, he said 'In fairness to the local farmers they did a fantastic job in assisting the fire brigade. I have no doubt that without the quick response of the fire service and the evacuation of the beach, there would have been fatalities'.
He condemned the 'totally irresponsible behaviour' of whoever caused the fire. 'They caused the State thousands of Euro and put lives at risk', he said.