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Firefighters and farmers battle latest gorse fires in Co Antrim

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Fires raging near the village of Armoy yesterday

Fires raging near the village of Armoy yesterday

Sweeping across uplands at Slieveanorra between Ballycastle and Mosside

Sweeping across uplands at Slieveanorra between Ballycastle and Mosside

Fires raging near the village of Armoy yesterday

Farmers joined around 70 firefighters to tackle two gorse fires in Co Antrim - one of which raged for more than 24 hours.

Fire crews and 15 appliances responded to the incidents, the latest in a series of blazes in recent days, in Ballycastle on Tuesday afternoon.

While one wildfire in the Islandboy Road area was put out within hours, a blaze in the Altarichard Road area, near the village of Armoy, persisted into yesterday evening.

Farmers assisted crew members on Tuesday night by bringing water tanks to the scene.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said yesterday that 50 firefighters and nine appliances remained in the area last night.

A spokesperson for the service explained that high winds and difficult terrain had hampered efforts to bring the blazes under control.

The cause of the fires is currently under investigation.

"These kinds of fires unnecessarily draw our resources away from where they are needed most - protecting our community," the NIFRS said.

"Thanks to our planning, the changes we have made to how we deliver our service and the hard work of our people, we are well placed to continue protecting our community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"However, it is important that the public work with us to not add any additional pressure on the emergency services during this time."

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Sweeping across uplands at Slieveanorra between Ballycastle and Mosside

Sweeping across uplands at Slieveanorra between Ballycastle and Mosside

Sweeping across uplands at Slieveanorra between Ballycastle and Mosside

On Monday firefighters battled a large gorse fire in Co Tyrone.

A number of fire engines and water tankers tackled the blaze in Coalisland, in bogland close to the Derrytresk Gaelic football ground.

Dry ground and strong winds made it difficult for crew members to extinguish the fire, which reportedly could be seen from miles away.

The NIFRS has been called to a number of fires in the Tyrone area over the past few days.

Just last week seven fire engines and 56 firefighters attended a gorse fire at Barony Road in Mountfield, Omagh.

The latest wildfires in Co Antrim come as the NIFRS joined forces with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to warn people of the dangers of gorse fires, particularly during dry and sunny weather.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots emphasised that it was important not to place further strain on the emergency services, which because of the coronavirus pandemic are already under more pressure than usual.

"A number of significant wildfire incidents have occurred over recent weeks. They have threatened property and destroyed valuable habitats," DUP MLA Mr Poots explained.

"Wildfires are rarely natural. They are almost always started either deliberately or by reckless burning or disposal of flammable vegetation or waste material."

Mr Poots urged the public to help the fire service by adhering to social distancing guidelines and by continuing to avoid beauty spots in lockdown.

"Waste or litter might also contain glass, which can easily start a fire on a sunny day," the minister added.

Belfast Telegraph