A resident of Sallins, Co Kildare was shocked and dismayed when he and wife came across several fires deliberately set along the popular walkway by the canal earlier this evening.
The couple were making the best of the good weather as they took a stroll after 6pm.
"We were passing under the Railway Bridge and had met a woman on her own, then a young man with distinctive clothing. About 25m ahead, we spotted a lot of smoke which my wife thought might be a barbeque.
However, I ran up to the little bridge by No 1 Lock and there was a fire on the grass bank which was burning intensely. Given the dry conditions, this could have spread much more quickly....."
The quick thinking Sallins man grabbed an empty water bottle on the ground, and surrounded the fire with water from the canal.
"Thankfully, there was no wind"he added "But then we saw another one up ahead".
He then phoned emergency fire services, and two units attended from Naas Fire Station.
"I called my son to come down with buckets as we could see a third fire along the railway line, and in fact, there were four fires in total. These were dry grass/hay strategically placed in a rectangular shape, circa 4-5 metres long and 1 metre wide. When the emergency services arrived, they too noted the deliberate piling of grass and that accelerant had been used".
Cllr Carmel Kelly contacted the local community garda who will meet with the Sallins walker tomorrow.
"I can't believe, given the fatalities in last week's fire near Kildare Town, that anyone could be so stupid and so irresponsible. I felt sorry for the firemen, some of whom had attended that house fire and no doubt traumatised from the tragedy. To think, someone would deliberately start fires like that, in dry weather and along a popular community amenity".
Cllr Kelly also commented that it was horrendous to think someone local would maliciously start fires. Last year, a similar spate of fires had been set in the Millbank area but the deligence of locals prevented further outbreaks.
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