‘Carelessness’ led to devastating park blaze

An air corps helicopter sprays tonnes of water on the blazing fire in Killarney National Park last April.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

Gardaí in Killarney have emphatically ruled out arson as the cause of the wildfire which ripped through thousands of acres of Killarney National Park last April.

Superintendent Flor Murphy confirmed today that, following extensive investigations, there was no evidence of criminality and the cause of the fire was, more than likely, “some form of carelessness”.

He told a meeting of the Kerry Joint policing Committee this Friday that the blaze on April 23/24 last caused huge concern and devastation and led to a public outcry.

Supt Murphy said there was a very extensive Garda investigation conducted with highly skilled and expert Garda Technical Bureau personnel spending a number of days at the scene.

Garda Superintendent Flor Murphy

“Essentially, the investigation concluded that there was no evidence of criminality,” he said.

Supt Murphy said An Garda Siochana has the ability and the resolve to investigate such matters and to determine what led to the fire.

“If there is any similar event like that in the future, in Killarney or any of the areas around, we will fully investigate and determine if there is any criminality involved,” Supt Murphy remarked.

Kerry Joint policing Committee Chairman, Cllr Niall Kelleher, said it would important going forward for the authorities to organisae information campaigns, highlighting the type of careless behaviour that could unintentionally spark a fire in the park.

Last year’s rampant wildfire called massive ecological destruction and fire service personnel, park rangers and volunteers support were supported by army and privately owned helicopters spraying the area with tonnes of water in an attempt to regain control.

Unprecedented damage was caused to woodland and bog as a result of the fire with in excess of 2,000 hectares involved, involving a variety of habitats, including blanket bog, woodlands, exposed rock vegetation and wet grassland.