Those responsible for a fire that destroyed part of a Special Area of Conservation, have been branded “thoughtless” and “imbecilic morons,” by a local county councillor.
Tom Cunningham said he was horrified when he visited the aftermath of the fire at The Head, in Clogherhead on Sunday morning, adding the fire could have resulted in a blaze similar to one that destroyed part of Slieve Donard in April.
“There was a huge pit about 4 metres by 2 metres and it contained rubbish which I proceeded to collect and bag. I found nails in the pit where they must have been burning wood or pallets,” Mr Cunningham said.
“As I removed the debris they left behind, I discovered that the fire was still smouldering even after a day and a half,” he added.
The location, which has unobstructed views of the sea, is now blackened from the fire and vegetation has been destroyed.
Mr Cunningham said he made several trips to bring water to the location to douse down the remaining embers.
This was deliberate destruction of a Special Area of Conservation.
“It was no easy task as it is off-road so had to be done manually, but I think it was my temper that helped me do it because I just couldn’t believe that people can be so careless and reckless.
“This wasn’t just people having a bit of a laugh and a good time and not meaning any harm, this was deliberate destruction of a Special Area of Conservation.”
He believes rain on Saturday damped down the embers, but if that had not happened “we could have had a similar scene here as in Slieve Donard and the fire would have swept across The Head causing major disaster to the area, habitats and the whole environment,” he said.
“It’s not good enough for people to stand with their mouths open saying ‘oh we didn’t think’ or ‘we thought we had put it out’ or ‘it was an accident, we didn’t mean any harm’," Mr Cunningham added.
In a direct message to those responsible, which he shared on social media, he said: “Save it! You did mean harm. When you set fire to a Special Area of Conservation in order to keep yourselves warm and ‘have a laugh’ around what you thought was a ‘campfire’ then it wasn’t an accident.
"It was a deliberate act and if you are so stupid as to do something like this then you have to accept that you are too moronic to know how to douse a fire and ensure the embers are extinguished. There are no excuses. We could have been dealing with a disaster here today."