OMM

Gorse fire threatens Tomies

The gorse fire spreading along Tomies Mountain, close to the Gap of Dunloe, threatening the natural oak forest, the oldest surviving forest in Western Europe. Ewes with their lambs are grazing close by. Picture: Valerie O'Sullivan
The gorse fire spreading along Tomies Mountain, close to the Gap of Dunloe, threatening the natural oak forest, the oldest surviving forest in Western Europe. Ewes with their lambs are grazing close by.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

FIRE crews from throughout the county are currently battling a major gorse fire which broke out in an area close to Killarney National Park overnight.

The blaze quickly spiralled out of control and ripped through an area from Tomies Mountain to Moll’s Gap and fears have been expressed for the safety of the historic Tomies Wood which is one of Europe’s most important natural oak forests.

The fire service was alerted shorty after 10 o’clock last night but there was little they could do until daybreak by which time the blaze had taken a firm hold.

Fire crews from Killarney, Killorglin, Castleisland and Kenmare are currently at the scene. They have requested support from a helicopter unit that can soak the worst affected areas from heavy-load water buckets attached to the choppers.

Staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry are also at the scene and they have pleaded with the public to stay away from the western area of Killarney National Park, near Tomies Wood, for safety and operational reasons.