A fire chief believes that a series of mountain fires in recent days are being started “deliberately” and “lives are being put at risk”.
Over the past four days fires have started on Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs mountains which straddle counties Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford.
The latest and largest occurred on Monday night at around 6.45pm just underneath the Nine Stones car park, which is well-known to hill walkers and paragliders.
Acting chief fire officer of Carlow Fire Services Liam Carroll said: “The fire covered an area of several hundred metres in risky and dangerous terrain. It became too dangerous for our fire crews to try to contain it and so we had to leave it.
“These fires are being started deliberately and I would appeal to people to stay away. Lives are being put at risk as we are being called away from our other work where we are needed.
“This is hugely irresponsible behaviour by those who are setting the fires. We are being taken out of commission and if a serious accident takes place or a building fire occurs then it is taking us longer to respond,” he told local radio station KCLRFM.
“I’ve never seen fires on the mountain so early in the year. The peak season is the end of March or the start of April. I worry about what lies ahead of us if they are starting now.”
Another of the fires was on the Mount Leinster/Wexford side of the Blackstairs mountains between Kiltealy and Bunclody and again occurred at nighttime. Up to eight units of the fire service battled the blaze.
The area regularly experiences large gorse fires, though normally later in the year.