NPWS: ‘We are ready to stop any gorse fire in Killarney National Park’

ALMOST two years after fire devastated parts of Killarney National Park, wiping out 2,500 hectares over a three-day period, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) says it stands ready and prepared to deal with any future fires in one of Ireland’s prime tourist sites.

he  NPWS said significant steps have been taken to avoid a repeat of the devastation caused in 2021.

An action plan has been put in place and NPWS management and staff meet regularly with the fire service to make provision for the safety of the park going forward.

The regional manager of the NPWS southern division, Eamonn Meskell, has assured business leaders in Killarney that early smoke- and fire-detection appliances have been provided to spot an outbreak before it can get too big.

A fire team has also been set up within the park, and the staff will be fully trained and kitted out with a specialist UK company engaged to conduct the training.

“We are liaising with four international groups to see the best way to do it,” said Mr Meskell, who added that a fire plan with detailed maps and the required information has also been prepared.

Delivering the keynote address at the annual general meeting of Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, Mr Meskell said the NPWS has purchased vehicles fitted with water pumps, and they are on site 12 months of the year.

 A helicopter is on retention and, in the event of another fire, it will have Bambi buckets attached to drop water on to the affected area.

A review of the damage caused in 2021 is ongoing to determine if the damaged habitat is capable of restoring itself and to ensure all the correct measures are being taken. There were 1.7million visitors to the 26,000-acre park last year, with 306,000 people visiting Killarney House and Gardens, 106,000 of whom were cyclists. Counters in place at the key attractions showed that 200,000 people passed through the gates of the park at Knockreer, 106,000 visited Muckross House and 56,000 people enjoyed the traditional farms at Muckross.


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