The Department of Agriculture has issued a Condition RED warning for “extreme forest fire risk” over the weekend.
The elevated forest fire risk this weekend is due to a combination of dry conditions creating hazardous fuels such as dead grasses, heather, and gorse.
There is also an anticyclone currently over the North Sea, which is expected to track eastwards over Ireland in the next 24hrs.
The ‘Type A’ fire weather pattern it’s bringing has been known to cause extreme fire behaviour in Ireland in the past.
The Fine Fuels Moisture Code is now in excess of 85 and Initial Spread index values are in excess of 10 across much of Ireland, which together create conditions for high fire spread potential.
It will also make any forest or gorse fire that crops up extremely difficult to suppress.
Under such extreme conditions, the department is warning that any ignition could create “rapid and unpredictable wildfire development and spread”.
The Condition RED warning will be in place from midday today until the same time on Bank Holiday Monday.
The department is advising that all controlled burning should cease immediately, and the use of barbeques or other outdoor fire sources should not be permitted near on forest lands or other at risk areas.
With silage season underway, extreme caution is also advised while making hay this weekend, as the machinery and dry vegetation pose a fire risk together.
Vehicles should not be parked at forest entry points to avoid potentially blocking emergency vehicles, and people intending to visit forest lands are being reminded of the 5km travel limit still in place.
Rural residents and landowners should also generally exercise vigilance this weekend, checking on elderly or vulnerable neighbours to ensure their safety.