McAleer praises Fire Service and community response to gorse fire
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has praised the Fire Service and the local community for working together to tackle a serious gorse fire near Loughmacrory, Co. Tyrone.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“On Wednesday night a huge gorse fire engulfed an area just north of Loughmacrory village and went on through the night and is still continuing, in a more controlled way today (Thursday).
“Throughout the night there were fire crews from Omagh and Pomeroy assisted by local volunteers with shovels and farmers using tankers to extinguish the flames.
“I was at the scene for most of the night as part of a community volunteer team and I witnessed at first hand the vital role that the Fire Service plays in protecting our lives and property. This is particularly true as they are also risking their own health and well-being out during the Coronavirus crisis.
“Last night was also a proud example of the local community working in partnership with the Fire Service and is something I wish to encourage and promote.
“At extremely short notice we were able to assemble around 30 volunteers with shovels to beat the flames and many remained on standby with the Fire Service until the early hours. The local helpers were also able to assist the fire service personnel with their knowledge of local roads, lanes, access points and other details to make the operation more effective.
“We also made good use of social media and community messaging facilities to communicate to the public.
“Our farmers also rose to the call and adapted their slurry tankers to spray water on the flames, taking a bit of pressure off the Fire Service, while local members of the Community Association set up road blocks near the fire to deter onlookers who were creating congestion and delaying the fire appliances from getting through.
“This was a fantastic all round effort which I am certain saved people’s property and even lives.
“I want to commend the trojan work of the Fire Service and the local help who mobilised at such sort notice and particularly in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. While I am not certain yet as to how this fire started I note the Fire Service is treating it as deliberate.
“If this is the case, then it is a very selfish and criminal act which put the lives of hundreds of people at risk from both the fire and the Coronavirus as consistent social distancing is very challenging under these circumstances.
“If anyone has any information about how this fire started then I encourage you to make this known to police”.