A suspected arson attack last Monday caused extensive damage to a two acre patch of wasteland behind St Nicholas Avenue. . The incident raised concerned about the council owned area of wasteland that has become a hot spot for dumping over the last number of years, writes Ian Cameron.
The blaze begun at midday with local resident fighting the flames in a bid to protect housess surronding the unused wasteland.
At approximately 12.50pm a fire crew arrived at the wildfire. The unit however became stuck and ulitmately had to be pulled out, before the fire was brought under control.
The site comprises of two sections, one owned by the council and another privately owned.
A local man, Eddie Morton, the official caretaker of the site, saw the fire starting on Monday, and went to fight the blaze.
Mr Morton then had to stop another fire the following day and then again on Tuesday. Yet this is just latest in a number of similar incidents that have plagued the site in recent years.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat Cllr Eamon O’Boyle; “From what I understand the fire brigade has been called to this site something like 48 times, at great cost to the taxpayer.
“There is a man who lives locally who takes great delight in taking a match to grass after a spell of dry weather.
“It poses a great risk both to the lives of local residents and also in the harm it does to houses. The rubbish that is being burned here causes toxic smoke which gets into houses, causes discolouration and leave a nasty residue. It poses a serious risk to people’s health.”
Cllr O’Boyle also says that amount of rubbish being dumped in the area is worse then many think.
“Becauseo of the long grass the rubbish is well hidden. I found old mattresses and white goods dumped there when I visited recently.
“Not alone does it cause a health threat to local, the site is an eyesore and devalues homes, and detracts from the ambience of the area.
“I think it would in the interest of everyone that this site be properly maintained or even turned into a park or a walk way. Instead of it being a site for fly tipping it could be a tremendous asset to the area.”
The Louth Environmental Group (LEG) had drawn up a proposal to redevelop the site, free of charge to the taxpayer and it was submitted to the Dundalk Town Council.
Speaking to the paper they expressed their anger that the site continued to lie idle, only to be used as a dumping ground, which posed a perennial fire risk problem.
A spokesperson for the group said: “If this is happening now, you imagine how bad it is going to be in the summer.
“We have put forward a detail draft proposal to do this site up free of charge but for one reason or another it has been frustrated.”
Dundalk Town Council did not respond to a query regarding the site from the paper.