Bog fires still burning after four days
The south Longford villages of Killashee and Kenagh, were literally at the 'eye of the storm' over the last few days, as some of the worst bog fires to hit the midlands since the 1970s blazed over much of the county.
As the fires raged, Longford town was also shrouded in smoke over the weekend as strong winds heavily interfered with emergency bids to dampen the flames.
According to Assistant Fire Officer at Longford Co Council, John Kane, the first of the fires began around Friday lunchtime when Granard and Edgeworthstown fire units were called to the Clonbroney area of Ballinalee to tackle a blaze in bogland and private forest there. Further reinforcements also arrived in the form of water tankers from Longford Fire Station.
By Friday evening, the North Longford fire was under control with "hot spots" further dampened down on Saturday morning.
Also on Friday, the fire stations at Lanesboro and Ballymahon attended a blaze in the Cooleeney/Begnagh area of Killashee, which was quickly overshadowed by a much bigger blaze in the Corlea/Derraghaun area, just a few miles away.
This was to prove the biggest and potentially most damaging fire in the county all weekend, with numerous Bord na Mona employees and emergency service workers deployed to prevent the fire from ravaging the locality.
According to Mr Kane , Saturday morning saw the evacuation of one house in this area, which is also home to the ancient Corlea trackway and Interpretative Centre.
"It was a very difficult operation," said Mr Kane speaking to the Leader in the wake of the devastating fires.
"In the region of 1000 acres were flaring up, with peat dust going on fire and the wind just lifting it."
The huge peat stockpiles as well as the fields of dry peat, compounded with the hot weather and strong winds, all contributed to the fire, Mr Kane said.
On Sunday, the section of road running from Derraghaun Cross to Ballinamore Bridge was closed to drivers as the Bord na Mona and emergency service workers alike, attempted to halt the spread of the fire.
"Two thousand acres of bogland from Derraghaun to Killashee were under threat, as was Killashee village, and so Bord na Mona brought in two bulldozers to create a fire break, " explained Mr Kane.
Despite the violent winds, which Mr Kane says really hampered efforts to get the fire under control, the fire fighters were lucky that the fire did not cross the road towards Killashee village, which lay "downwind" from the blazing bogland.
On Sunday, a second man, Mr Sean Scally, was evacuated from the Ballinamore Bridge area which lies in close proximity to the Bord na Mona Bog at Lough Bannow.
At the time of going to press, the fire had been "stablilised" according to Mr Kane, although Bord na Mona was still managing the hot spots.
On Monday, a bog fire also broke out in the Cloonshanagh area near Rooskey in Co Roscommon and Longford units were also deployed from Lanesboro and Longford town to assist Roscommon units in dealing with it.
It is believed that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of milled peat have been destroyed as a result of the various bog blazes across the Midlands and that valuable Bord na Mona machinery has also fallen victim to the flames.
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Weather for Longford, Ireland
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 11 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South west