Those who set gorse fires don't care for consequences of their actions... we the public need to help police stop them
The recent spell of good weather has encouraged many of us to venture out into the countryside to enjoy the unparalleled beauty of our landscape.
Sadly, it also seems to have encouraged very unwelcome visitors to our rural idylls - those whose warped mentality leads them to deliberately set fire to acres of gorse bushes.
With the vegetation becoming drier with each passing sunny day, the dangers of deliberately starting fires should be apparent to everyone.
Allied to the stiff breezes in many areas such fires could easily go out of control, putting animals and even homes in danger of being consumed by the flames.
But the most obvious effect of these arson attacks is the strain that it puts on the Fire and Rescue Service. According to the service's 2015/16 annual report, firefighters dealt with an average of 62 emergencies every day.
That includes house fires, extricating people from crashed vehicles and dealing with incidents such as gorse fires.
The number of gorse fires started deliberately in recent years has shown a steady decline, but the statistics have changed dramatically in the last week when there were 221 such blazes compared to 19 in the same period last year.
Some 204 were started deliberately,
A service which is involved in life and death incidents as a matter of routine - and which like so many other vital bodies is facing reducing funding - needs all the assistance it can get from the public to reduce the demands on its services. The last thing it needs is to have its burden increased by deliberate acts of arson.
Those who set gorse fires have the same mentality as those who deliberately vandalise public utilities. They care not for the consequences of their actions, either in cost or increased workload for already hard-pressed public servants who put their own lives at risk to safeguard the rest of us. One solution is obvious - anyone who sees or knows these arsonists should contact that other emergency service, the PSNI, at once.