ONE of the Dundalk firefighters who tackled a “ferocious” gorse blaze near Ravensdale has said several houses would have been lost if the wind had changed direction.
The fire raged across the mountain at the back of the Carrickdale Hotel from Sunday night, May 1 until the following morning, threatening local residents and their homes.
“The whole mountain was on fire and it was moving very fast in a direct line towards a number of houses and the Carrickdale Hotel,” said the fireman.
“Residents were afraid to go up onto the mountain and were calling us to ask if their homes were at risk. It stopped just 200 metres short of a number of houses, near the edge of Ravensdale forest.
“The wind was very strong and working against us but if it had changed direction at all some houses would have been lost. We were very lucky.”
He added: “It was unbelieveable the heat from the mountain fire coming towards firefighters even at 500m distance.
“The speed and noise of the wind and fire racing up the mountain valley was tremendous, like a Harrier jump jet landing. Access was very difficult so we had to fight it from the side.”
It took three crews comprised of 18 men until sunrise to get the blaze, which covered a 2km sq area under control. It finally stoppped within metres of a wall which marks the beginning of Ravensdale forest.
“Luckily, we didn’t have any serious fire to deal with in town while we were out there. The fire service is geared for house fires, not fires of this type and scale,” said the fireman.
“The loss of wildlife in the area is the untold cost. Birds, foxes, badgers and little animals would all have been killed by the smoke. The mountain has been left barren.”