Hundreds of tourists and bathers were evacuated from Curracloe Beach on Sunday as a fire raged through the sand dunes.

Investigations are continuing into the cause of a devastating fire on a popular Irish tourist beach that ravaged through between 20 and 25 acres of sand dunes on Sunday and led to hundreds of people being evacuated from the area.

The fire spread across Curracloe beach, Co. Wexford, on Sunday morning, where the Leinster Open Sea Race was being held. The woman’s race had just begun when competitors and audience alike were forced to abandon the beach and the adjoining car park.

Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe has said that it was “extremely fortunate” that nobody was injured during the fire, commending the work of the emergency services in stopping the fire as it spread rapidly through the marram grass.

Read more: Is this really Ireland? Drought and dangerous wildfires as heatwave continues

These shots show the extent of the damage from last night's fire at Curracloe beach. The Air Corps assisted Wexford Fire Service by dropping 44,400 litres of water on the fire! #strengthenthenation #IAC #joinourteam photo:Jack Meehan

— Irish Air Corps (@IrishAirCorps) July 23, 2018

“We were very lucky in that we could have seen a totally different situation, had it not been for the local fire brigade, the ambulance service, the local farmers and specifically the Air Corps — last night, they came along and were able to dampen down the fire,” Kehoe said.

“There would have been hundreds of tourists and locals in the area at the time.”

The sand dunes of #curracloe #beach in #WEXFORD are on fire & people are asked to stay away as homes & cars in the packed Sunday car park are in danger..people are asked to stay away 2 help the emergency services @beat102103 @NewstalkFM @JOEdotie @farmersjournal @rtenews @TodayFM

— Barry Dempsey (@barryde78) July 22, 2018

The alarm was first raised at 11.30am on Sunday as emergency services responded quickly to clear the area. The Irish Air Corps were also called in to assist with the Wexford Fire Service, dropping 44,400 liters of water on the fire.

“There has been a huge amount of damage done,” Kehoe added.

“The dunes are adjacent to a mobile home park and individual mobile homes as well and also a number of businesses, based at Curracloe beach.

“This could have been a totally different situation. We are extremely fortunate there were no fatalities or no injuries.”

Curracloe beach evacuated after sand dunes catch fire (Pictures: The Surf Shack Curracloe)

— (@thejournal_ie) July 22, 2018

The beach has since been reopened while the investigation into the fire's cause continues. It is believed that it may have been sparked by a barbeque and fueled by the two months of dry weather Ireland has experienced during the summer heatwave.

“I would like to commend members of the Wexford Fire Brigade, especially its chief Fire Officer Paul L’Estrange, members of An Garda Síochána, the ambulance service and of course the Air Corps for their efforts in bringing this situation under control,” said Kehoe.

Ongoing ops!

— Irish Air Corps (@IrishAirCorps) July 22, 2018

“There have been many serious fires related to the hot spell and this is the latest example. I want to commend all the agencies for their efforts.

“I visited the scene myself to see first hand the impact. Public safety is the number one priority and all personnel acted quickly and appropriately.”