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Gorse fires warning after Mourne blazes

By Michelle Smyth

Published 12/07/2013

Fears are growing that the gorse fire epidemic of 2011 could be repeated after four similar blazes sparked off across the country during the very hot and dry weather.

Two of the fires were confined to the Mourne Mountains in Co Down. Six Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service pump appliances and two special appliances attended the scene.

Crews battled a fire front of two to three square kilometres until they brought it under control just before 7pm.

One appliance was tasked to the forested Moneyscalp area of the Mournes after an outbreak was reported there early yesterday evening. The small fire was extinguished within an hour.

In May 2011, firefighters had to extinguish 40ft high flames and a hill-walker narrowly escaped getting injured in the inferno, which are believed to have been started by arsonists.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, assistant chief fire officer Brian McClintock said: "This is to be expected with the hot weather but we also ask people to be careful with cigarette butts and litter when walking in these areas."

SDLP councillor for the Newcastle area Eamonn O'Neil added: "People need to take more care. The Fire and Rescue Service and emergency services also need to be on high alert at this time."

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