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Homes narrowly escape gorse blaze as police hunt Co Antrim fire starter

Police issue warning to culprit setting deliberate fires in the area

Published 06/10/2016

Firefighters tackle a gorse fire close to homes in Cushendall on Wednesday evening. Picture: Kevin McAuley.
Firefighters tackle a gorse fire close to homes in Cushendall on Wednesday evening. Picture: Kevin McAuley.
Firefighters tackle a gorse fire close to homes in Cushendall on Wednesday evening. Picture: Kevin McAuley.

Firefighters have prevented a gorse fire from spreading to a row of houses in the latest of a series of blazes police believe are being started deliberately in Co Antrim.

Seven fire engines were sent out to the Layde Road area of Cushendall on Wednesday at 7.30pm, where the flames of a large gorse fire were being fanned by strong winds towards a row of around six houses.

One person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, the Northern Ireland Fire Service said.

At least three of the homes were occupied at the time, according to Sinn Féin's Oliver McMullan. 

The East Antrim MLA said that at one point “the smoke was so thick that visibility was down to about a foot”.

He commended the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service for working in difficult conditions to bring the situation under control.

However, work was not over for the night for firefighters in Ballycastle and Ballymoney, after three fire engines were called out to another gorse fire in the rural Co Antrim area at Loughareema Road, the main route from Ballycastle to Cushendall, near Ballypatrick Forest at around 10.30pm.

The latest incidents on Wednesday night came after PSNI North Coast issued an appeal on social media over fires being started in the area earlier in the week.

Officers said: “Over the past number of days somebody has felt the need to set fire to grass verges on the roads around the Cushendall, Cushendun and Ballycastle area during the night.

“This is not only causing strain on the PSNI resources but also the Fire Service.”

They appealed for anyone who has noticed any suspicious activity in the area that could be connected to contact them on 101.

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