RESIDENTS living near one of Donegal’s most historical monuments believe a massive gorse fire there last night (see video) was started deliberately.
An Grianan Fort at Burt was threatened by the fire which broke out around 9.30pm last night.
A donegaldaily reader at the scene told us the fire was being whipped up by winds and there had been no significant rainfall in that part of the county at that stage.
Firefighters arrived at the scene around 10.10pm and managed to bring the blaze under control.
A large crowd of local people gathered to help as Gardai sealed off roads in the area.
The eyewitness said he believed the fire had been started deliberately when a second fire began.
“It was awful for everyone around here,” he said.
“An Grianan fort is a special part of this area and whilst fire can’t damage ancient stone, it was just very upsetting for all of us that this could happen here.
“Then there was always the fear the fire could spread to property and do damage there.
“I might be wrong but there were two fires here last night, not one. I’m convinced however the fires were started deliberately.”
The eye-witness said the fire was around just yards from the ancient fort, a monument of huge significance.
It’s early settlement dates back to 2000 BC and it became an important seat for the O’Neills in the 6th century.
The blaze appeared to be the last in more than 350 fires across Co Donegal in the past week.
Heavy rainfall in many areas overnight has finished off the superb job undertaken by firefighters, Air Corps pilots, soldiers and many many residents in tackling the worst gorse fires in living memory.
However there remains a small risk of some fires re-igniting in areas not hit by heavy showers.
Brilliant acting county fire chief Bobby McMenamin said: “People should remain vigilant over the next few days, but the worst appears to be over.”