31 March 2021 latest news

Coillte urges the public not to light outdoor fires – Easter potentially a high risk time for forest fire outbreaks

Damage and clean up cost of fires €1.3M in 2020

Almost all forest fires are man made


The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine has issued a Status Yellow forest fire warning nationwide from March 1 until September 1 – the traditional fire outbreak season in Ireland.

With warmer and dryer Spring weather, dead grasses, gorse and heather become much more flammable and fires can spread quickly from open lands to forests.

“Easter can be a peak time for forest fires as people venture out to visit woodlands over the holiday,” said Coillte’s National Estates Risk Manager, Mick Power. “We have seen a doubling to tripling of visitors to some of Coillte’s most popular forests since lockdown began”.  “An unextinguished barbecue, camp fire or burning of lands can be the start of a large and unintended blaze,” he said.

Coillte urges the public not to light fires in the outdoors such as campfires and barbecues and reminds the public that it is an offence to burn vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between 1st day of March and 31st day of August.

In Coillte’s experience most forest fires in Ireland do not arise from natural causes. “About 99% of fire outbreaks we’ve seen were not caused by spontaneous combustion but instead were caused by unattended fires, or campfires that were not extinguished,” said Power.


Top facts re Coillte forest fires:  

  • Almost 6,000 acres of forest land has been damaged by fire between 2016 and 2020 (5,892 acres)
  • There have been 584 forest fires on Coillte lands since 2016
  • Fires destroy the habitats of birds and animals, and this damage can take years to be repaired.
  • Fires pollute the air and add to harmful CO2 emissions
  • Fires can damage property and put lives at risk
  • Damage and clean up of forest fires cost €1.3M in 2020



Picture of Forest Fire in Coillte Forest
Forest Fire in Coillte Forest


“We urge people to exercise care and not to light any fires in the outdoors over Easter” said Power and added “It’s very important individuals don’t approach forest fires and report them to the local fire service immediately”.  “We’ve had over 580 fires in the past five years and we can bring this number right down if we all work together” said Power.

Forest fires pose a serious health and safety risk to the public, firefighters and foresters whose job is to bring the fire under control and prevent it from spreading to other areas.

Once fires become established they are very difficult to control and cause considerable damage.   In 2020, Coillte estimate the combined costs of loss of crops to fire and clean up amounted to €1.3 million.


Coillte recommends the following steps to prevent forest fires:
  1. Do not light fires and be careful regarding all activity involving fires
  2. Report any suspicious activity
  3. Report any forest fires you see to the local fire service
  4. Do not approach forest fires under any circumstance, they are extremely dangerous
  5. Keep access points and forest entrances clear for emergency services






Media queries: For further information or to arrange an interview with a Coillte spokesperson please contact: Adam Hurley adam@carrcommunications.ie or mobile 083 459 5885



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