EXHAUSTED fire crews were forced to respond to a hoax call in the midst of battling dozens of blazes in the city and county at the weekend.
City crews were so stretched over the weekend that crews from county areas were brought in to help battle gorse fires. In the midst of it, a hoax call drew hardworking members away from legitimate calls, potentially putting lives at risk.
The offence of making a hoax call can result in a fine of up to €3,000 or a prison sentence of up to six months.
Separately, up to 30 firefighters battled a blaze in Youghal for six hours last night as the old Hilltop Hotel went up in flames.
The Fire Brigade were called to the scene in Youghal at around 11pm last night and stayed on scene until 5.30am this morning.
Meanwhile, in the city, county fire units from Midleton, Carrigaline and Crosshaven were required to assist the fire service on Friday night due to the number of calls the station received.
Assistant chief fire officer David Spillett said among the many calls was a river rescue, gorse fires, a house fire, as well as a malicious hoax call for a house fire in the city, which is being investigated by An Garda Síochána.
“It is standard procedure if a hoax call is made that it is passed on to the gardaí and investigated.”
Mr Spillett said the resources of the Fire Brigade are stretched enough in the current spell of dry weather and a house fire requires two units to be sent, putting a massive strain on their resources.
“It is an extremely busy period for the fire service,” Mr Spillett said. “We had 28 call-outs within a 15-hour period. Saturday night was particularly busy.
“The ground is very dry, it is tinder dry and fires are very easily started.”
Despite the rain on Sunday, there are fears that renewed dry weather in the coming days could result in further issues.
Mr Spillett asked people to think carefully about their actions during the continued dry weather.
“Take care putting out cigarette butts, don’t dump rubbish, avoid outdoor barbecues, don’t light outdoor fires and don’t block access to areas by parking illegally.”
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Councillor Ken O’Flynn has slammed the waste of resources after Cork City Fire Brigade were called to rubbish fires on the Northside of the city three times in a month.
The large fire, which occurred at Ellis Yard, opposite Spring Lane halting site, is the third one of its kind in a month.
Mr O’Flynn said: “It is absolutely disgusting to see the fire services called out yet again to the dumping site adjacent to the halting site in Ballyvolane.
“Not only is it unfair to our valiant men and women of the fire service, it is a waste of taxpayers money and deeply unfair to the residents living around the area. Nobody should have to go through this day in day out.”