The majority of fires firefighters had to tackle in 2016 were started deliberately, according to data published by the fire service on Monday.
The figures showed a slight drop — 0.90 per cent — in fires, compared with the previous year, the service said. Damage to property reached €10.13 million.
Close to 65 per cent, or 4,385, of the fires the service was called to tackle had been set deliberately. Around 10 per cent was attributed to arson, the remaining 55 per cent were purposely set fires which had got out of control.
The fire service said the rise was mainly seen during April, as the overwhelming majority concerned Easter bonfires or rubbish burning in rural areas during Easter.
The past year saw 6,750 fires versus 6,811 in 2015. Rural fires reached 1,196 in the first months of 2016, from 646, during the same period of 2015 – an 85.14 per cent rise.
During the high-risk season, between May and the end of the year, rural fires dropped from 3,686 in 2015, to 2,673 the previous year, a 27.48 per cent reduction. In total, rural fires fell by 10.96 per cent last year, compared with 2015.
The fire service said it responded to 11,559 calls in 2016, including fires – 6,750 – and provision of special assistance – 4,178 — (for example people trapped in lifts or drivers stranded in floods), ambulance, and false calls.
The service said it rescued 2,041 people in the past year.